Roberto Longhi

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Roberto Longhi
Roberto Longhi.jpg
Longhi in around 1960
Born(1890-12-28)28 December 1890
Died3 June 1970(1970-06-03) (aged 79)[1]
Alma materUniversity of Turin
Known forScholarship on Caravaggio and Piero della Francesca
SpouseLucia Lopresti
Scientific career
Fieldsart history
PatronsCount Alessandro Contini Bonacossi (1878–1955)
Thesis (1911)
Doctoral advisorPietro Toesca
Notable studentsEvelina Borea, Giovanni Previtali, Luciano Bellosi
WebsiteFondazione di Studi di Storia dell'Arte Roberto Longhi

Roberto Longhi (28 December 1890 – 3 June 1970) was an Italian academic, art historian, and curator. The main subjects of his studies were the painters Caravaggio and Piero della Francesca.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Longhi was born in December 1890 in Alba, Piedmont to parents from Emilia. He studied with Pietro Toesca, in Turin, and Adolfo Venturi in Rome. The latter made him book reviews editor of the journal L'Arte in 1914. Between 1913 and 1917, Longhi, primarily an essayist, published text in L'Arte and La Voce on Mattia Preti, Piero della Francesca, Orazio Borgianni and Orazio Gentileschi.

Over the course of his career Longhi developed a fascination with Caravaggio and his followers. his book Quesiti caravaggeschi [Questions on Caravaggio] (1928–34), was followed by Ultimi studi caravaggeschi [Latest Caravaggio studies] (1943). In 1951, Longhi curated a ground-breaking exhibition on Caravaggio at the Royal Palace in Milan, Mostra di Caravaggio e dei Caravaggeschi.[3] In 1968 he authored a monograph on the artist.

Whilst establishing himself as a notable Caravaggio scholar, Longhi retained a lively interest in Piero della Francesca, editing a monograph in 1928, representing him as the leading painter of the Quattrocento. Longhi believed Piero della Francesca played a decisive role in the development of Venetian painting. This monograph, which Kenneth Clark opined could hardly be improved upon, established itself as a classic of art-historical literature.[1]

Between 1920 and 1922, Longhi made a Grand Tour of Europe. He never visited Russia, nor some American collections, like the Kress Collection of the National Gallery, Washington. However, his first-hand viewing of many works, like those in the Borghese Gallery in Rome, led to the rediscovery of many lost masterpieces such as two panels of a Giotto altarpiece.

Longhi also rekindled interest in a large number of followers of Caravaggio, such as Hendrick ter Brugghen (he edited a monograph in 1927) and some painters from Ferrara. His book Officina Ferrarese (1934) still stands as an exemplary study.[1] Along with the publication of the Officina, Longhi started his academic career, first as Professor at Bologna University (from 1935), and later in Florence.

Role in Nazi art looting[edit]

During the Second World War, Longhi advised Eugenio Ventura, a dealer in Florence, who was investigated for his involvement in an exchange of pictures confiscated by the Nazi looting organisation known as the ERR or Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce.[4] He also advised Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi (1878–1955) until 1945.[5][6]


In 1950, Longhi co-founded and edited with his wife Anna Banti Paragone, a bi-monthly magazine on art and literature still running to this day.[as of?]

Longhi also curated a number of exhibitions, including Mostra della pittura bolognese del Trecento (Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna, 1948);[7] I pittori della realtà in Lombardia (Royal Palace, Milan, 1953); and Arte lombarda dai Visconti agli Sforza (Royal Palace, Milan, 1958).[8]

Cimitero degli Allori, Roberto Longhi

Longhi died on 3 June 1970, and is buried at Cimitero degli Allori in Florence.


  1. ^ a b c Bloch, Vitale (October 1971). "Obituaries: Roberto Longhi". The Burlington Magazine. 113 (823): 609–612. JSTOR 876766.
  2. ^ Longhi, Roberto Archived 29 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine Dictionary of Art Historians
  3. ^ Longhi, Roberto (1951). Mostra del Caravaggio e dei caravaggeschi Catalogo. Florence: Sansoni.
  4. ^ "Art Looting Intelligence Unit (ALIU) Reports 1945-1946 and ALIU Red Flag Names List and Index". Retrieved 23 February 2022. Ventura, Eugenio. Florence. Antique dealer. Visited personally by Goering, with whom he became involved in an important exchange of pictures confiscated by the ERR. Advised during the war by the well known expert, Roberto Longhi.
  5. ^ "Dealer Records: Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi (1878-1955)". Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  6. ^ admin (21 February 2018). "Longhi, Roberto". Dictionary of Art Historians. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  7. ^ "1950 - Mostra della pittura bolognese del Trecento - Cronologia di Bologna dal 1796 a oggi".
  8. ^ "Arte lombarda dai Visconti agli Sforza, Milano celebra il suo glorioso passato". 13 March 2015.


  • Longhi, Roberto (1927). Piero della Francesca. Rome: Valori Plastici.
  • Longhi, Roberto (1934). Officina ferrarese. Edizioni d'Italia.
  • Longhi, Roberto (1946). Viatico per cinque secoli di pittura veneziana. Florence: Sansoni.
  • Longhi, Roberto (1951). Mostra del Caravaggio e dei caravaggeschi Catalogo. Florence: Sansoni.
  • Longhi, Roberto (1956–1991). Edizione delle opere complete di Roberto Longhi. 14 vols. Florence: Sansoni.
  • Longhi, Roberto; Ghidiglia Quintavalle, Augusta (1964). Correggio: the Frescoes in San Giovanni Evangelista in Parma. New York: H. N. Abrams.
  • Longhi, Roberto (1968). Me pinxit e quesiti caravaggeschi, 1928-1934. Florence: Sansoni. OL 18650068M.

External links[edit]