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HomeContentsThemes > Early landscape photography of the Classical World

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A number of early photographers in the mid-1850's onwards were interested in the commercial possibilities of taking images in exotic locations and then selling the resulting images in the developing European markets. When leaving their own countries the photographers gravitated towards the locations popularized by the 'Grand Tour' most notably Italy and Greece.
  • Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (1804-1892) with his Daguerreotypes of monuments in Rome and Athens taken in 1842.
  • Robert MacPherson (1811-1872) became one of the foremost photographers in Rome.
  • Giorgio Sommer (1811-1872) photographed the archaeological excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum and the 1872 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
  • William J. Stillman (1828-1901) traveled through Europe with the British art critic John Ruskin to the Alps and took photographs of classical sites, most notably the Acropolis (1869).
  • Charles Clifford who from the 1850's onwards was photographing in Spain.
There were a great many other photographers who went to the classical sites and recorded them either as amateurs or for publication in albums. Some names that are worthy of further investigation include Dimitris Constantine, Petros Moraites, James Robertson, the Rev. George Bridges, the first Greek photographer Philippos Margaritis, Francis Bedford, Eugene Piot, and the Reverend Calvert Richard Jones with his photographs of the Roman colosseum.
The Eruption of Vesuvius (1872)
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Giorgio Sommer
Eruption of Vesuvius 
1872
   
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Photographic souvenirs of Pompeii (1880)
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Auguste Lesouëf
Pompei 
[Pompéi (Book)] 
1880
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Auguste Lesouëf
Pompei 
[Pompéi (Book)] 
1880
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Auguste Lesouëf
Pompei 
[Pompéi (Book)] 
1880
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Auguste Lesouëf
Pompei 
[Pompéi (Book)] 
1880
These four hand colored photographs, from an album of twelve, in the Bibliothèque nationale de France are by Auguste Lesouëf (1829-1906). They were produced as souvenirs for the many tourists who visited the excavations.
 
The Roman city of Pompeii was covered by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D but in the nineteenth century Fausto and Felice Niccolini were documenting the extensive archaeological excavations and published the results in their four volume work Le case ed i monumenti di Pompei disegnati e descritti that was published between 1854 and 1897.
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