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FONDS Identifier: BER -9

Roberto Papini papers

Scope and Content

The bulk of the collection regards Roberto Papini (RP) and consists of personal papers. A great portion of the material relates to his activity as an architectural historian and as professor at the University of Architecture in Florence. The other significant part of the collection consists of Papini's correspondence. Arranged alphabetically by sender, these records reflect the wide range of relationships Papini maintained with architects and artists during the Fascist period and the 1950s.

The collection also includes the papers of Roberto Papini’s second wife, the Hungarian-born sculptor Livia de Kuzmik. This smaller collection includes some material related to her activity as a sculptor as well as personal correspondence, primarily from her relatives in Hungary. It also includes a portfolio of 49 drawings, mainly studies of male and female nude models, and some preparatory studies for unidentified sculptures.

Harvard University received the library of Roberto Papini when it was bequeathed through Bernard Berenson. The collection has been kept in its original location at the Villa Papiniana, although the books have been catalogued and appear as part of the Berenson Library Collection. They are recognizable by the designation “Papi” before the call number.

Documents regarding the Villa Papiniana and the transition of its contents to Harvard University are kept in the institutional archive at Villa I Tatti. Access to this material is restricted.


  • Creation: 1910-2005



Conditions Governing Use

Copying: Papers may be copied in accordance with the Biblioteca Berenson's usual procedures. Copyright: The Biblioteca Berenson does not hold copyright on all the materials in these collections. Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to the archivist. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the archivist are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright.


8.0 linear feet (: [18 boxes (3,398 letters; 692 folders of documents; 568 photographs in 45 folders), 4 portfolios])


Roberto Papini, architect, art historian, critic and teacher, was born in 1883 in Pistoia. He studied drawing and architecture at the Politecnico in Milan; he then completed coursework in mathematics and physics at the University of Pisa. From 1908-1910 he studied art history with Adolfo Venturi at the University of Rome.

He held a number of important appointments throughout his life, including the secretaryship of the “Associazione per l’arte in Pisa” (1907-1908), the directorships of the Galleria Comunale di Prato (1912), the Pinacoteca di Brera (1920), the Galleria Nazionale d’arte Moderna in Rome (1933), and the Museum of Arts and Industry (1928) in Rome. He also worked for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the superintendent responsible for the furnishing of embassies, consulates, and legations abroad from 1921-1926.

He was a founder of the magazine Architettura e arti decorative, as well as the author of numerous journal and magazine articles on contemporary art and urbanism. He wrote for a variety of periodicals including newspapers such as Conciliatore, Corriere della Sera, and Il Mondo, and the magazines, Rassegna italiana, Dedalo, and Emporium. He was the author of many art history publications, including Catalogo delle cose d’arte e di antichità d’Italia: Pisa (2 volumes; Rome, Calzone, 1912-1914); Catalogo della Galleria Comunale di Prato (1912); Le arti a Monza nel MCMXXIII (1923), and a three-volume monograph on Francesco di Giorgio Martini published in 1946.

After the Second World War, Papini was appointed to the commission to reconstruct Florence’s historic center. He also taught art history at various universities, first at the Museo Artistico Industriale di Roma, then at the University for Foreigners in Perugia. In 1934 he was appointed Professor of Florentine Art at the Istituto Superiore d'Architettura. In 1941 he became Professor of Architectural History in the Architecture department, and in 1943 he initiated a course on the style and construction of monuments.

His second wife was the Hungarian sculptor Livia de Kuzmik (1898-1976). Livia was born in Budapest, Hungary on December 10, 1898, and it was there that she studied with the sculptor Ede Telcs. Livia also studied in London with Professor Whiting of the Royal Academy and the Heatherely School of Art, in Rome with sculpture Arturo Dazzi of the Royal Academy, and with Roberto Papini at the University of Florence, whom she ultimately married.

Roberto died in Modena on November 10, 1957.

In the decade following her husband's death Livia went to the U.S. as a visiting professor at Northwood University in Michigan. Her works were exhibited at the Royal Academy in London and at international exhibitions in Paris, Copenhagen, Budapest, Madrid, Washington, Venice, Rio de Janiero, Milan and Florence.

There are three works by LP at Villa I Tatti. Two of them are small porcelain statuettes of Adam and Eve wich both have Livia’s signature in pen on the bottom. They also bear cast stamps: “HERDEN” on Adam, “HERDEN / HUNGARIA / 1941” on Eve. The third work is a life-size bronze bust of Bernard Berenson (1958) signed “L. Papini.”

Livia died in Florence on December 20, 1976.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Livia de Kuzmik Papini, 1976.

Related Archival Materials

A very rich collection of Roberto Papini papers is held by the archive of the Faculty of Architecture of Florence. The collection is not yet catalogued but an unpublished inventory is available. An overview of the holdings is available online at

Processing Information

Processed by Ilaria Della Monica and Giovanni Pagliarulo, 2002-2003. Revised and updated by Anne-Marie Viola, 2011.

Roberto Papini papers, 1906-1957: A Finding Aid.
Biblioteca Berenson
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Biblioteca Berenson, I Tatti - The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies Repository

Via di Vincigliata 26
Florence 50135 Italy
+39 055 603 251
+39 055 603 383 (Fax)