Angelo Antelmi’s Antiques

Written by Fredrik Franzén on . Posted in Portrait Photography

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Marletta | ©Angelo Antelmi

Marletta Gallery | ©Angelo Antelmi

Italian photographer Angelo Antelmi caught our attention last Christmas when he somehow managed to make an image of a fork appear vivid and interesting. Now Angelo is back with a series of portraits of art dealers.

The portraits were commissioned by the FIMA (Italian Federation of Art Dealers) which wanted to propose a new way of looking at the world of antiques. All portraits were shot in Florence, the heart of Italian art – each one depicting one of the city’s most famous art dealers.

According to Angelo, each art dealer is specialized in a certain field of antiques. The Frilli Gallery produces copies of the most important works of art for museums and collectors around the world. Chiavacci Antiques specializes in historical furniture and fittings, Salvatori Gallery in sculptures, Il Cancello Antique Shop in 19th century art, Pino Marletta Antiques in prestigious paintings for museums and international galleries, the specialty of Fratelli Gonnelli’s Gallery is valuable frames and, finally, Simone Romano Gallery has a long-standing family tradition of antique dealers specializing in prints.

“My goal was to deeply understand these peculiarities,” says Angelo. “I interviewed the dealers and studied their background and activities in order to turn the portraits into visual stories of their respective personality and business. The result is a collection of pictures in which the antique dealers step out of their ‘old’ art shops and ‘old-fashioned’ images to catch the eye of the public with empathy and humor.”

Pino Marletta set up


“The Inquisition of Galileo, represented in a famous picture with life-size figures, was an opportunity to highlight my ability to study the art dealer, so the antiquarian investigates the inquisitor through a Galileian telescope, which it seems part of the painting itself. The key factor for this shot was the ProFresnel Spot that I used as main light for the painting. I then had a D1 monolight equipped with a Softbox 5’ Octa as fill light behind the antique dealer.”

Frilli Gallery | ©Angelo Antelmi

Frilli Gallery set up


“This gallery is run by two women. My ambition was to work around the concept of ‘original’ and ‘copy’ – two sides of the same coin – like Yin and Yang of the same entity. Therefore, we chose a sculpture created by the same artist in both black bronze and in white marble. Both shots were taken with a Softbox 1×4′ RF, a Softlight Reflector White and a Translucent Umbrella, powered by a single D4 Air generator. This was necessary to create similar shadows on the white and black sculptures.”

Chiavacci | ©Angelo Antelmi

Chivacci set up


“Mr. Chiavacci is a sprightly, 80-year-old gentleman. He wanted to highlight the difference between antique and modern furniture with a sense of irony. We used three lights for this image.”

Salvatori Gallery | ©Angelo Antelmi

Gianluca Salvatori set up


“For this dealer we decided to return a selection of sculptures to where they originally came from 500 years ago: Michelangelo’s marble quarry in Pietrasanta. We used two Softlight Reflector White for this one. We also brought a BatPac with us.”

Simone Romano Gallery | ©Angelo Antelmi

Romano Gallery set up


“This was shot at the historical residence of the Romano family, and we decided to use a cinematic triangulation technique. A little girl draws the masterpieces of tomorrow and the family looks to the future without forgetting the works of Brunelleschi and other authors that are crucial to their experience and cultural background.

“For this shot we used a large amount of power. We had an Acute2R 2400 at full power, a D4 4800 and a D1 1000 monolight from above. This was necessary to avoid a very direct and harsh light while still being able to use a mid-closed diaphragm at 50 ISO, which I believe is the best shooting sensitivity of my Hasselblad.”

Fratelli Gonelli Gallery| ©Angelo Antelmi

Fratelli Gonnelli set up


“For Gonnelli Gallery, specialized in frames, we brought a BatPac, two Softlight Reflector Silver and two D1 monolight with us to an outside location. The frames were seen as an element of detachment from reality.”

Ilcancello Antique Shop | ©Angelo Antelmi

Ilcancello set up


“This gallery specializes in 19th century art and clothing. Therefore, the antiquarian was taken to the house of the famous painter whose works he trades in, wearing a vintage 1930s tuxedo. The girl in marble looking at him in the right-hand corner completes the story. The scene was lit with two lights from the top and one light from the bottom.”

See more of Angelo’s work at his website.

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Comments (5)

  • alberto recami


    very original & nice
    Alberto Recami


  • Fabio Giraldi


    The concepts and visuals are great and really convey a deal of humor, even if I don’t like the lighting, nor the pictures “per se”. I just find them a bit “flat”, they do not “pop” as I would have expected from a long time professional photographer as Antelmi.


    • Andi Pfohl


      Thats exactly what I thought, when I saw the images.
      Think he also should have been used color filters/gels … to bring subjects and background better together.


  • Tom Epperson


    There is nothing here that really stands out or makes me want to stop and look. In fact I find these images
    rather boring. Maybe he was just having an off day happens to the best of us from time to time.


  • The Month in Review: June | Profoto Blog


    [...] piece on Spanish documentary photographer Ramón Vaamonde, who brought strobes to the Sahara, and Angelo Antelmi’s portraits of Italian antique dealers. Also, we published a interview Tim Wallace, who gave a detailed description of how to light a [...]


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