Director of the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, 1950 to 1956; contributed to wave of post-WWII scholarship on the Romanesque. Salvini studied under Mario Salmi at the University of Florence in 1929. He continued study in the early 1930s in Berlin and Munich. In Berlin, his work under Albert Brinckmann gave him an appreciation for original texts and an analytical approach to source material. During this time he developed his theory of "pure visibility" in which he sought to give an abstract coherence to figurative values. His studies focused on the writings of the formalist art historians Bernard Berenson and Heinrich Wölfflin as well as the theories of the sculptor Adolf von Hildebrand. He joined the University of Florence where he taught for almost 30 years, over 20 of which being a museum administrator, rising to the directorship of the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, in 1950 (to 1956). Salvini's research area was Romanesque sculpture, building on the work of Pietro Toesca. He published his survey of Romanesque sculpture, La scultura romanica in Europa in 1956. He edited a methodological work, La critica d'arte moderna (la pura visibiltà), which analyzed the formalist from theorists such as Konrad Fiedler to art historians such as Adrian Stokes. His monograph on Wiligelmo appeared in 1956. In 1962 Salvini authored a volume on the capitals in the cloisters of the Duomo of Monreale, Il chiostro di Monreale e la scultura romanica in Sicilia, one in a series of volumes whose authors also included Ernst Kitzinger on the mosaics in the Cathedral and one on Norman architecture and the cathedral by Wolfgang Krönig. Salvini's work merged historical and aesthetic aspects of art through his concept of "lingua figurativa" (figurative language).
[complete bibliography:] Scritti di storia dell'arte in onore di Roberto Salvini. C. De Benedictis, editor. Florence: Sansoni,1984; La critica d'arte moderna (la pura visibiltà). Florence: L'Arco, 1949; La scultura romanica in Europa. Milan: Garzanti, 1956; Wilgelmo e le origini della scultura romanica. Milan, 1956; Il chiostro di Monreale e la scultura romanica in Sicilia. Palermo: S.F. Flaccovio, 1962, English, The Cloister of Monreale and Romanesque Sculpture in Sicily. Palmero: S.F. Flaccovio 1964.
Bazin, Germain. Histoire de l'histoire de l'art: de Vasari à nos jours. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986, p. 263; Dictionary of Art 27: 657.