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COLLECTION Identifier: BER -11

Giorgio Castelfranco papers


Notes, manuscripts, clippings and published articles relating to the research interests of Giorgio Castelfranco, Italian Art Historian and officer of the Italian Fine Arts administration.


  • Creation: 1920-1973

Language of Materials




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 this collection. 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.


36.5 linear feet

The bulk of the collection consists of professional papers. A great portion of the material relates to Giorgio Castelfranco's activity as an officer of the Italian Fine Arts Administration. The other significant part of the collection consists of GC's activity as a scholar and a critic. Related to this aspect of GC's work, is a large quantity of bibliographical notes, drawings, photographs as well as a group of articles on various topics. The series correspondence consists mainly of letters sent by colleagues, artists and art historians. Letters found in the folders on professional matters have been left in their original places and are indicated. 12 boxes of photographs documenting GC's art historical interests are housed in the Berenson Fototeca, as the Castelfranco Bequest. The 196 glass plates are stored in an onsite deposit.


Giorgio Castelfranco, art historian and critic, was born in Venice in 1896. In 1914 he moved to Florence where he lived in the family house, located along the Arno River. He fought in the First World War and was seriously injured. In 1921 he took his degree at the University of Florence, with a thesis on Agnolo Firenzuola. In 1919 he met the painter Giorgio de Chirico in Milan, and his youth as a critic was marked by the friendship and deep intellectual relationship with the artist and with his brother Alberto Savinio. Between 1921 and 1924 Giorgio de Chirico spent considerable periods of time in Castelfranco’s house, at Lungarno Serristori n. 1, and Castelfranco bought some of his paintings. In 1926 he was employed by the Italian Fine Arts Administration in Puglia (Taranto); in 1927 he moved to Umbria (Perugia), and in 1929, as an inspector, to Florence. During the 1930s, together with intensive scholarly activities, he renewed his contacts with de Chirico and Savinio. In 1936 he became Director of the Palazzo Pitti Gallery and, in 1938, succeeded in giving the gallery a new layout. In that same year, in anticipation of Adolph Hitler’s visit to Florence, Castelfranco, as a Jew, was forced out of his position and assigned to the Estense Gallery in Modena. The year after, when the Racial Laws were promulgated in Italy, Castelfranco could no longer hold any government position. He was reintegrated in 1943, in Bari; in this period he supervised the creation of an inventory of monuments and works of art damaged by the war, for which enterprise he was decorated by the Italian Ministry of Education. Then he returned to Florence, and later moved to Rome. From October 1946 he worked closely with Rodolfo Siviero to recover works of art stolen by the Nazis. The collaboration with Siviero began in 1944, when Castelfranco opened his apartment on the Lungarno Serristori to agents and friends, and made it available for the storage of confidential documents. During the 1950s GC was very active as a critic in the organization of contemporary art exhibitions for the Quadriennale d’arte in Rome. In this decade and the following he published many scholarly essays on the Renaissance: mainly on Leonardo da Vinci, but also on Raphael and Donatello. Between 1958 and 1964 he directed the Gabinetto Fotografico Nazionale, promoting the work of cataloguing and the photographic documentation of Italian works of art. In 1964 he became Superintendent of Galleries in Lazio. He retired in 1966 and died in Rome on 15 November 1978.


The collection is subdivided in eight series: Personal and Biographical, Castelfranco's art collection, Professional, Writings, Research, Correspondence, Bibliographical, Photographs.

Processing Information

Processed by Ilaria Della Monica, 2013-2014.

Giorgio Castelfranco papers, 1920-1973: A Finding Aid
Biblioteca Berenson
Description rules
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
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