Skip to main content


About this collection

The Robert W. Fichter and Robert Freidus Italian Memorial Sculpture Photograph collection encompasses images of funerary art from Italian cemeteries.  The photographs were taken by Robert W. Fichter and Robert Freidus, and appeared in the book, Italian Memorial Sculpture 1820-1940: A Legacy of Love, written by art historian Sandra Berresford.  The images were made over the course of several trips to Italy from 1996-2001.  The pictures highlight details specific to particular regions and towns, reveal the highly personal nature of these public memorials, and provide a broad understanding of the development of funerary art in central and northern Italian cemeteries from the Neoclassical to the Art Deco periods.


Dramatic social, political and artistic changes swept across Italy in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and found expression in remarkable funerary sculptures commissioned by the newly affluent middle class.  Although easily approachable, the sculpture is not so readily understood.  Geographic location has the power to influence the character of specific monuments and entire cemeteries – from the iconography, to the artistic style, and even the materials used.   Memorial sculptures are also artifacts of both a personal and public history.  They express the values, aspirations, virtues and sins of a rising social and economic class which had attained an unexpected degree of power. 


Please note that the images in this collection are being made available before full metadata has been provided.  Catalogers in the Bibliographic and Metadata Services department are in the process of fully describing the photographs and assigning subject terms.  In the interest of serving the research community and general public, we have decided to make the images accessible and searchable.  Every image currently has a title, location, and the name of the deceased/family, sculptor (if known), title of the sculpture (if applicable), and date (if known).


About the Photographers


Robert W. Fichter is a renowned artist/photographer noted for his satirical images.  He graduated in 1963 from the University of Florida where he studied with photographer Jerry Uelsmann.  He earned his M.F.A. in 1966 at Indiana University where he studied with Henry Holmes Smith.  Following graduation, he was hired as an assistant curator at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography where he worked from 1966 to 1968 before joining the faculty at UCLA.  In 1972, Fichter joined the faculty of Florida State University at Tallahassee, Florida, where he rose to full professor.


UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery is home to Robert Fichter’s archives.  Mr. Fichter’s work has been shown numerous times including at George Eastman House, Light Gallery and Robert Freidus Gallery in New York, Center for Creative Photography at University of Arizona, the Brooklyn Museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  His work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, the High Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum, the Columbus Museum of Art, the California Museum of Art, and the Center for Creative Photography.


Robert Freidus is a graduate of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and after working in a family business, opened and ran a gallery in New York’s Soho, specializing in contemporary sculpture and photography.  Also a collector, his photographic collection now represents a major portion of the photographic holdings of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.  He has also created a major collection of architectural paper models which has been donated to the Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, part of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Currently living in London, he is working on another collection, this time of English New Sculpture.  



 >>> Browse this collection



Related Works:


Italian memorial sculpture, 1820-1940 : a legacy of love / Sandra Berresford ; introductory essays by James Stevens Curl, Fred S. Licht ; additional articles by Francesca Bregoli, Franco Sborgi ; photographs by Robert W. Fichter, Robert Friedus.


Information about the images was taken, with permission, from text written by Curator of Exhibitions, Emily Hauver.



Select the collections to add or remove from your search