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Vittorio della Rovere was born in Casale Monferrato (Piedmont) in January 1811 to a noble family of marquises. When he was 16 he moved to Rome and entered the Company of Jesus to take priestly vows as a Jesuit. With a strong interest in science he taught chemistry and physics in the College Romano. From 1842 to 1845 he was preceptor to the royal Prince of Naples and it was in Naples that he commenced his study of photography.
The Abbot della Rovere was by this point a noted scientist and when he returned to Rome he concentrated on the daguerreotype studying the contemporary processes but also experimenting and suggesting new methods. In 1846 he wrote an essay on the way of iodizing the plates and five years later he wrote another entitled "Immagini su lamine dagherriane che non fanno specchio" ("Images on daguerrian plates that don't make mirror.") It is possible that this refers to salt prints. He was so experienced as a Daguerreotypist in Rome that he took portraits of leading pontifical personages in the Vatican including Pope Gregory XVI in October 1845.
In 1851 he abandoned the Company of Jesus for personal reasons and returned to the secular life. From this period he began to photograph women a subject that had been forbidden while he was a priest.
Of his original photographs only rare examples remain - Daguerreotypes and a positive photo (a salted paper from calotype) that belonged to the photographic collection of the Duchess du Berry.
[Kindly contributed by Marco C. Antonetto, Jan 21, 2008]