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Università degli Studi di Padova

PHAIDRA – Digital collections

Botanists Portrait Collection

The Botanists Portrait Collection consists of 2,380 portraits of Italian and foreign botanists dating from the second half of the seventeenth century through to the first half of the twentieth. The collection is made up of photographs (salt prints, albumen prints, aristotypes, platinotypes and gelatin prints), glass negatives, engravings, watercolours, drawings, paintings and photomechanical prints. The collection is preserved in the Padua Botanical Garden Library.

The collection began in 1843 following the donation of seven oil paintings of botanists. Then the Prefect, Pier Andrea Saccardo (who was Prefect from 1879–1915) subsequently decided to expand the collection systematically in order to complete La Botanica in Italia (Botany in Italy), extending his research to foreign botanists.

Saccardo wrote:

…a great deal of research has been undertaken to complete this summary [La Botanica in Italia], including information regarding whether and how depictions of the botanists themselves are to be found. This research and the collection already begun spurred me to attempt to procure copies of the portraits…
— Saccardo P. A., La iconoteca dei botanici nel r. Istituto botanico di Padova, “Malpighia”, a. 13, v. 13 (1899)

Catalogue of the Botanists Portrait Collection, by P.A. Saccardo.


Botanists in the Catalogus horti Bergiani Stockholmiensis (list of citations relating to the portraits of botanists listed in the collection’s records).
Visit the Iconoteca degli orti botanici (Gallery of the Botanical Gardens) as well.
See also the video of the exhibition “Volti e luoghi dei botanici: i ritratti dei botanici e i loro viaggi” (Faces and places of botanists: the portraits of botanists and their journey) (3–8 March 2008).
The Botanists Portrait Collection on Europeana.

Interesting facts

The collection includes many photographs produced using historical photographic processes:

For definitions of photographic techniques, see:

Glossario di terminologia fotografica
EdinPhoto – Photographic processes
Glossary of processing terms

Many photographers included among the collections are well known in the history of photography.
Italian photographers include: Giovanni Battista Altadonna, Odorico Benatelli, Germano Bendelli, Francesco Benque, Giacomo Brogi, Icilio Calzolari, Alessandro Duroni, Fratelli Alinari, Fratelli D’Alessandri, Luigi Fiorentini, Guigoni & Bossi, Mauro Ledru, Enrico Van Lint, Maurizio Lotze, Carlo Molino, Luigi Montabone, Michele Schemboche, Antonio e Gaetano Sorgato, Vincenzo Spina, Lorenzo Suscipj, Giovanni Battista Unterveger.
Foreign photographers include: Adolphe Braun, Herbert Rose Barraud, Bayard & Bertall, Crowe & Rodgers, Elmslie William Dallas, Disderi &, Hill & Saunders, Anna Klintberg, Maull & Co., John Moffat, James Mudd, Nadar, William Notman, Eugene Pirou, Camille De Silvy, John Adams Whipple, M. L. Winter.

L'abbé P. Chanoux
L'abbé P. Chanoux, chanoine, 1905.
Biblioteca Orto botanico – Coll.: IB.JJ.8.

Stages of the project

  • A survey of the collection determined the exact amount, type, format and state of preservation of the documents.
  • Preservation. This stage involved the following activities:
    • dusting and treatment of the specimens with suitable materials for their preservation
    • restoration of negatives and photographic prints
    • restoration of prints

    Treatment and restoration of the Botanists Portrait Collection..
  • Cataloguing. All items were catalogued according to ISBD (NBM) standards. Authorship was attributed according to Italian cataloguing rules (Regole italiane di catalogazione per autori, RICA).
    Cataloguing is in the UNIMARC bibliographic format and was perfomed in Aleph, the University Library System catalogue.
  • Digitization. in compliance with digitization guidelines and best practices, digital acquisition parameters were selected in consideration of the size, type, information contained in the original item and the intended use of the digital artefact. The digitization process was designed in such a way as to obtain a master file for conservation purposes. Copies were made from the master file for consultation in local and geographical networks.

    Digitization of the Botanists Portrait Collection.. An educational/information video on a number of stages in the digitization process.
  • Online publication. Digital items from the collection are searchable on the Phaidra platform, bibliographic records from GalileoDiscovery.

The Botanists Portrait Collection digitization project

Request an image from the collection


L. Andreoli, L’Iconoteca dei botanici e il fotografo Luigi Caporelli, “AFT : semestrale dell’Archivio Fotografico Toscano”, n. 47, XXIV (June 2008)

A. Beguinot, I materiali di archivio del r. Istituto ed Orto Botanico di Padova, “Boll. dell’Ist. Bot. della R. Univ. di Sassari”, vol. 1, mem. X (1922)

A. Minelli (ed.), L'Orto botanico di Padova 1545-1995, Venezia, Marsilio, 1995, p. 311

P.A. Saccardo, La Botanica in Italia: materiali per la storia di questa scienza, Vol. 1, Venezia, Tip. Carlo Ferrari, 1895, p. 236

Id., La Botanica in Italia: materiali per la storia di questa scienza, Vol. 2, Venezia, Tip. Carlo Ferrari, 1901, p. 172

Id., La iconoteca dei botanici nel r. Istituto botanico di Padova, Genova, Tip. Ciminago, 1899, p. 35 (in: Malpighia, 13)

Id., La iconoteca dei botanici del r. Istituto botanico di Padova. Supplemento, Genova, A. Ciminago, 1902, p. 22 (in: Malpighia, 15)

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