A lecture will be given on Monday 27th June, by Dr Donal Cooper of this university, on the Florence flood of 1966, entitled: From Deluge to the Digital: Fifty years of research and conservation in Florence since the 1966 flood. Dr Donal Cooper is University Lecturer in Italian Renaissance Art and a Fellow of Jesus College. His research focusses on sacred art and architecture in Italy from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries.
Certainly the worst flood in the city’s history for many hundreds of years, the flooding of the Arno on 4th November 1966 killed 101 people and damaged or destroyed a huge number of art treasures and rare books. After heavy rain, a mass of water from the Arno Valley reached Florence, flooding the narrow streets of the city. Highs of 6.7 metres were recorded in the Santa Croce area. As the rising water destroyed the central heating oil tanks in the city, oil mixed with the water and mud, causing even greater damage.
It is estimated that between 3 and 4 million books and manuscripts were damaged, as well as 14,000 movable works of art. Particularly affected were the collections of the Archives of the Opera del Duomo, the Biblioteca del Gabinetto Vieusseux, the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze and the Archivio di Stato. Art works damaged included the Crucifix by Giovanni Cimabue, the Gates of Paradise by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Magdalene Penitent by Donatello.
We have, amongst our holdings here at the UL, several interesting works on the flood of 1966. Oltre il fango : Firenze 1966, l’alluvione nelle immagini delle collezioni Alinari e dei Vigili del fuoco (C201.d.1102), is a collection of photographs of the devastation and of rescue operations carried out by the city’s firemen. Acqua passata : l’alluvione del 1966 nei ricordi dei fiorentini / Maro Marcellini, Gian Luigi Corinto (2007.9.1989), is a collection of first-hand accounts, also with accompanying photographs of the devastation. Conservation legacies of the Florence flood of 1966 : proceedings of the Symposium commemorating the 40th anniversary / edited by Helen Spande (C207.c.5051), concentrates on conservation and restoration. Piccoli grandi tesori alluvionati : un patrimonio da non dimenticare / a cura di Magnolia Scudieri, Maria Grazia Vaccari e Francesca Fiorelli Malesci (C200.b.5685), is a slim catalogue of an exhibition held in the Museo di San Marco, Florence, November 2006-January 2007 on some of the damaged artworks, now restored.
Italian Collections at the UL, as a member of the Italian Studies Library Group, would like to invite anyone who is interested in Florentine art and in conservation and restoration to come along and hear Dr Donal Cooper speak at the Annual Italian Studies Library Group Lecture to be held at the British Library.