Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive

Identifier: MSS.0088

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

The Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive contains over 50,000 photographs of art objects created in Europe during the 13th through 20th centuries. The collection is especially strong in Italian art of the 13th through 18th centuries, offering breadth and depth coverage of each major Italian region and featuring both major (Botticelli, Tintoretto) as well as lesser known (Turino Vanni di Rigoli, Deodato Orlandi) artists of the period.


  • 1930 - 1967

Conditions Governing Access

This collection may be viewed only in the reading room of Special Collections in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library. Collections should be requested 2-3 days prior to visiting in order to facilitate easier access. For questions or to request a collection, contact

Biographical / Historical

The Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive was created by Florentine art connoisseur Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi to supplement his own knowledge and understanding of art in support of his growing collection of paintings. After Contini's death in 1955, the collection was acquired by Florentine antiquarian Gualtiero Volterra, who continued to add photographs to the collection.


126 Linear Feet (300 Hollingers)

Language of Materials



The Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive, 1930-1970, consists of photographs of art objects created in Europe during the 13th through 20th centuries. The collection was assembled by Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, 1878-1955, and Gualtiero Volterra, 1901–1967.

Physical Location

Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Vanderbilt University purchased the collection from the Volterra estate in 1969 to support its growing Art History program. The collection was transferred to Special Collections in 2002 for preservation and broader public access.

Finding Aid for the Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Library
1101 19th Ave. S.
Nashville TN 37212 United States


About this Site

This site contains collection guides, or finding aids, to the archival collections held by Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives, the History of Medicine Collection, and the Scarritt Bennett Center. Finding aids describe the context, arrangement, and structure of archival materials, allowing users to identify and request materials relevant to their research.

Requesting Materials

Each finding aid contains a link to request materials from the collections. Collections can also be requested by emailing the repository directly through the library website. Each repository has its own location, hours, and contact information. Please consult the repository with questions about using the materials. Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the repository’s reading room. In many cases, the collections are stored off-site and require advance notice for retrieval.