Rodolfo Lanciani and His Archive:

A Visual History of Rome

This website offers virtual access to a premier collection of historic depictions amassed by Rodolfo Lanciani (1845–1929). Archaeologist, professor of topography, and secretary of the Archaeological Commission, Lanciani was a pioneer in the systematic, modern study of the city of Rome. Beginning in the latter part of the nineteenth century and continuing into the first three decades of the twentieth century, his work profoundly influenced our understanding of the ancient city. Throughout his long career Lanciani collected a vast archive of his own notes and manuscripts, as well as works by others including rare prints and original drawings by artists and architects stretching back to the sixteenth century. After his death in 1929, his entire library was purchased by the Istituto Nazionale di Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte (INASA), on the recommendation of the Director Corrado Ricci (1858-1934).

To quote the librarian at the time of the accession, the Lanciani collection "enriched the Roman topography section by almost 3,000 volumes and printed brochures; [and by] several folders containing valuable notes for the continuation of the history of the excavations of Rome and Lazio, that the death of the illustrious archaeologist left interrupted, as well as about 15,000 prints and loose drawings, and some books of drawings and sketches in pen and pencil by artists such as Giani, Rossini and Caracciolo.” Lanciani considered this corpus his personal collection, unlike one of similar importance that he donated to the Vatican Library in 1925. Fittingly, the room that hosts the INASA collection is called the “Sala Lanciani” and is now located on the fourth floor of the Biblioteca di Archeologia and Storia dell’Arte (BIASA) in the historic Palazzo Venezia in Rome.

This work has been made possible by a generous Digital Resources Grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.