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FondoRomano - The Origins of Photography in Rome The earliest studies of photography in Rome claimed that the first photographs on paper of the city were made by Victor Prevost “in about 1843,” citing an example which had been exhibited in New York before the Second World War, and which has never been seen since then.
After this singular appearance and tentative dating, and beginning, instead, in 1846, the earliest historically dated photographs of the city would appear to be those made by the Reverend Richard Calvert Jones, who visited Rome in May, 1846, and then by A. Guillot-Saguez of whom dated photographs of Rome are known from 1846 and ‘47.
Although we are talking about foreign calotypists who visited Rome, it is reasonable to assume that they met local practitioners who had recently taken up paper photography, some of whom had previously used the daguerreotype process. Jones remained in Rome for no more than one week, however, and his negatives were only printed out on his return to England. It is worthy of note that Jones’ photographs never circulated in Rome, either before or after he left the city, and we can be certain that he would not, in any case, have revealed the method invented by his friend, Talbot, of which he was the jealous custodian. Indeed, it is easier to imagine the influence Guillot-Saguez, whose method seems to have been at the basis of various changes in the process used by the first Italian photographers in Rome.
The few known photographic images of Rome by Guillot-Saguez are conserved in the so-called Regnault album of the Société française de photographie (French Photographic Society), while those by Jones are known to exist in various public and private collections, as well as in the remarkable group of his negatives in the Lacock Abbey collection.
Recently, however, I have been able to verify that the third itinerant calotypist to reach Rome, most probably at the end of 1847, was Stefano Lecchi, who stayed there, either continuously or for various periods, until the summer of 1849, that is, for a period far longer than any of his predecessors.
Before this, we know that he had made photographs in the south of France in 1845, and in Naples (and Pompeii) in 1846 and 1847 on commissions made by King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies himself.
There can be little doubt that Lecchi played an important role in spreading the word about the calotype process in Rome. Augusto Castellani notes: “I remember especially the great enthusiasm with which he always talked about photography(…)”
Confronting the little that is known about Lecchi with the letters which Jones and Bridges sent to Talbot, we also learn that Lecchi not only sold copies of his photographs, but that he also gave lessons and was disposed to reveal his personal methods of making negatives to anyone who was willing to pay him for his trouble.
The method he used employing “a dry paper iodine bromide negative” was described at length in a letter which Bridges sent to Talbot in August, 1847, in which he also mentioned that Lecchi was highly esteemed by his contemporaries, “both for his ability to obtain a clear sky (without spotting,” and for the short exposure times which he favoured. It should be noted, however, that the few surviving prints by Lecchi have suffered problems of fading and alteration over the course of time, and today many of them are barely legible.
The reason for which Lecchi had so few imitators or followers among the earliest resident photographers in Rome, and for which he seems to have been excluded from the group which soon formed among these pioneers, may well have been that his freedom with the secrets of the calotype process was diametrically opposed to the attitude of most other contemporary practitioners.
Lecchi should be considered as an “inventor” who perfected his own method of producing paper negatives at a date when the calotype was still virtually unknown, and that he was disinclined to share what he knew at that time unless he was very well paid for it.
Other early practitioners of photography in Rome, working from the discoveries of others, began at once to share information among themselves, intending to perfect what they had learnt, not disdaining to offer assistance and advice to foreign photographers who visited Rome and found great difficulty in dealing with the intense light of the Italian sky as a result of the methods that they had employed in northern latitudes, in exchange for technical information which the foreigners possessed. The accounts of Thomas Sutton and Richard W. Thomas, who reached in Rome in 1851 and 1852, are particularly interesting in this respect.
The publication of the ‘wet’ calotype process by Blanquart-Evrard in 1847 was most assuredly an improvement on the ‘dry’ method previously employed by Talbot, while the variant process perfected in the same year by Guillot-Saguez simplified the operation even further, and these improvements were soon known by the Roman photographers, who brought their own contributions to the new art.
The most recent experiments in photography on the international scene were provided with an important outlet in Rome by way of the Accademia di Francia (French Academy), and this is reflected in the local press. The weekly newspaper, “Raccolta di lettere ed altri scritti intorno alla fisica ed alle matematiche”, edited between 1845 and 1849 by Ignazio Cugnoni, published numerous important articles regarding photography which throw “new light on the beginnings of photography in Rome (…) showing an interest which is notably scientific, and which plays an active part in international research, making up, in some measure, for the isolation and cultural backwardness which characterises the state of the arts and sciences in the Rome of Pope Pius IX.”
More than sixty years ago, one of the most knowledgeable collectors of photographs of Rome, Valerio Cianfrani, found a photograph by Giacomo Caneva dated 1847, which is still today one of the earliest testaments of the activities of photographers who were living in Rome at that period. Indeed, it is from this photograph that we conventionally date the beginning of what the literature defined as a “photographic clique,” or a “French circle,” though later historians eventually settled on the term “circolo fotografico romano,” that is, “the Roman photographic circle,” “the Roman school” or “the photographic group of the Caffè Greco,” the most recent denomination which appears in both the title and catalogue of an exhibition held in Rome at Palazzo Caffarelli in 2004.
A limited number of photographers working in Rome between 1847 and 1853 belonged to this group, adding a Roman aspect to the international debate regarding the nascent art, in that they applied new methods to the making of negatives which would eventually be published and sold not only in Italy, but north of the Alps, too, experimenting with variants of their own which were more successful and better suited to the particular climatic conditions under which they were obliged to operate in Italy.
Their names are mentioned in an article of 1852 by Richard W. Thomas, who had spent four months in their company in Rome, learning from their methods and subsequently propagating them in his own writings (op. cit.): “the Prince Giron des Anglonnes, signor Caneva, M. Constant and M. Flacheron”.
The negative method described by Thomas is evidently a more finely-tuned variant of the method employed by Guillot-Saguez, in which the addition of potassium bromide reduces the sensibility of the paper, thus making it more suitable for the bright sunlight of Rome. It is reported in the photographic manual of R. Hunt of 1853, however, as the “Flacheron method,” associating this method more explicitly with the most well-known member of the group, whose name was made after his success at the Great Exhibition of London in 1851, though Hunt described it as the “Roman method” in the edition of 1854, recognising, perhaps, that the method of working was more correctly attributable to the group than to any single member.
Alongside the four photographers mentioned by Thomas, who habitually photographed the same locations, often travelling together on these excursions, discussing their results in the Caffè Greco and the Trattoria della Lepre, other less well-known photographers and amateurs are known by name, though we have little information about them: “Mr. Robinson,” for example, who seems to have acted as an intermediary (translator?) between the local photographers and foreign visitors and artists, especially speakers of English, F. Borioni, Domenico Castracane, Augusto Castellani who is mentioned above, and the unidentified makers of photographs which form part of the Maggia collection, and other private collections.
James Anderson merits greater attention, his contribution to the group limited only by the fact that he began to take photographs in 1851, when the pioneering days of Roman photography were almost at an end. The quality of his work is evident from the very first prints that he made, ranking him on the same level in terms of quality of his work alongside the four ‘founding fathers’ of the ‘scuola romana.’
Finally, the overview is completed by the architect, Alfred Nicolas Normand, an amateur who was also a “pensionnaire” at the Academy of France in Rome from 1847 to 1852, one of the wider group of photographers who were ‘passing through.’ Like Thomas, Normand spent periods of various lengths in the capital, and added to the atmosphere of cultural exchange between the Roman school and the rest of the world. Others occasional ‘member’ included Firmin Eugene Le Dien, Thomas Sutton, Alphonse Davanne, Henry De La Baume, Luigi Sacchi, Pompeo Bondini, Adriano De Bonis, and others.
A particular characteristic of all these photographers of the first generation was an interest in experimenting technically to perfect a method which would allow them to obtain the very best results in the new photographic medium with the means at hand.
The simplification of the methods of making negatives, the stability and quality of the print on salted paper, the speeding-up of exposure times and printing methods were the central aims of this research, rather than exploring the new figurative language of photography, which would be taken up by later protagonists of the history of photography in Rome, notably Adriano de Bonis and the other talented photographers whom Simelli enlisted to assist in the cataloguing and recording of the work of the archaeologist, John Henry Parker, in the period between 1864 and 1877.
The photographers of the Scuola Romana used their subjects as little more than a pretext to demonstrate, exercise and expand on their technical capacities, falling back, more or often than not, on the traditional subjects which had been used by engravers for hundreds of years to satisfy the desires of grand tourists for ‘souvenirs,’ which comprised the largest and most important market for ‘views.’
At the same time, the best and easiest way to discuss results and note improvements was to work and re-work the same subject again and again, which may explain to some extent the almost obsessive repetition of subjects in successive generations, too. Though liberated from the necessity to perfect their art, these later photographers were still closely bound by a commercial system which came increasingly into play, tying photography to a series of well-worn, popular stereotypes.
Later interest in different subjects, including landscape and folk costumes (both of which Caneva had pioneered in the first instance in around 1850), though aimed at the same commercial market, resulted in a heightening of artistic interest, especially amongst painters, and led to the definition of a freer and more fragmented figurative repertoire, which would impose itself on the aesthetics of painting, too, before too long.
While wishing to avoid proposing biographies of the major figures of the Scuola romana di fotografia, it is necessary to outline the main facts regarding their activities, and the contribution which each one made to the success of the group.
Frederic Flacheron was the most well-known at an International level, uniting in his name all the virtues which should be more fairly attributed to the cohesion of the group as a unit, which was its strength and the real reason for its success.
Flacheron did, however, play a very important role, especially in focussing attention on Rome in the international fairs and exhibitions in which he took part, managing to involve Caneva and Constant also. The relationship which he and Normand maintained with the Academy of France in Rome is equally important, as was his intimacy with the artistic community which gravitated around the Caffè Greco, while purchasing fine art materials in nearby Via Due Macelli and Piazza di Spagna.
Negatives by Flacheron almost inevitably include the dates when they were made and the monogram “FF,” which was replaced a short time afterwards by his full signature. He was also one of the first to make larger format images (25 x 35 cm.) after 1848, while all the other photographers were still using daguerreotype cameras until at least 1850, producing negatives which measured approximately 15 x 21 cm.
His photographs were usually printed out on heavy paper and are characterised by their opaque surface, which may have been a result of toning with sulphur and may account for the loss of contrast in his prints, which tend to take on a uniform sepia tone which lessens the impact that we can observe in his negatives made on finer quality “Whatman” paper.
A large number of negatives were offered for sale in the auction “Photographies anciennes, succession Comte Frederic Flacheron” (Vendom, Hotel des ventes, 1987), and many of them have found their way into the collection of the Museè d’ Orsay, and also into many other public and private collections.
Flacheron appears to have stopped taking photographs in 1853, coincidentally bringing to a close the epoch of the artist-photographers who frequented the Caffè Greco.
The rediscovery of Giacomo Caneva and the central role which he played in the Scuola fotografica romana was in large part due to Piero Becchetti, who managed to attribute a large number of photographs to Caneva, demonstrating his wide-ranging activities, ranging from views of Rome to photographs exploring the landscape and local customs. While Caneva and his fellows concentrated their forces on perfecting a method for the making of negatives, it is for the quality and technique of printing that they are most widely recognised today.
The rare examples of Caneva’s earliest prints are surprisingly well preserved, maintaining unaltered tonalities which range from the intense, watery brown of the Tempio di Vesta al Foro Boario dated 1847, to the more sharply contrasted images of brown or black with white backgrounds which can be seen in prints which have been partially treated in the negative with either wax, and/or albumen.
Caneva’s photographs printed after 1850 have suffered a different fate. They were often toned with gold which produced tones of intense black, or treated in other less easily identified ways which produced a distinctive shade of brown and they have often lost their original sharpness, assuming pale yellow sepia tones.
From a technical point of view, Caneva’s opus is extremely varied, revealing the personality of an expert and enthusiast who explored each new development as it emerged, while the range of his subjects – from views of Rome to folk portraits and landscape in the early 1850s, the most poetic of all his creations – is vast.
His urban views are particularly interesting as we see Caneva moving away from the stereotyped viewpoints which had been favoured by engravers in the pre-photographic era, capturing for the first time unusual aspects of the urban scene, and opening the way for the successive generation of photographers, notably De Bonis by planting a solitary figure within the scene, exalting the fascination of ancient places suspended in time, while also giving a sense of the size and grandeur of the setting.
Fortunately, many of Caneva’s paper negatives have survived, mainly in the ICCD collection in the so-called “Fondo Tuminello,” the majority of them dating from the early 1850s.
Of the first photographers in Rome, Caneva was one of the most consistent and persistent. Although his activity falls away after 1855, he continued to use the paper negative until about 1860.
He used a daguerreotype camera producing negatives measuring approximately 15 x 21 cm. until 1850, before using a larger format camera measuring 19 x 27 cm, to which, after 1852, he added a further camera producing negatives measuring about 25 x 33 cms.
Caneva’s prints are often found on paper bearing the watermark “Canson”; they are often signed on the verso with a blue or a black pencil; and, when mounted on card, they bear a descriptive title written out in Caneva’s characteristic italic handwriting in the centre beneath the print, more rarely, his name or other notations appear in the negative.
Eugene Constant began to take photographs in Rome in 1848. Unlike the others, he quickly adopted the glass negative process using albumen which he had learnt in France directly from its inventor, Niépce de Saint Victor. This technique required a far longer exposure which possibly accounts for the lack of animation in his photographs, which are otherwise conventional from a visual and compositional point of view, following almost religiously the age-old traditions of Roman vedutism.
The earliest photographs by Constant, signed and dated 1848, were exhibited at the Société Française de Photographie in 1855 and 1857, at which latter date five prints were consigned to the archives of the Société, where they can still be found today.
After the 1852 exhibition at the Royal Society of Arts, the “Journal of the Society of Arts” noted that “collodion images submitted by foreigners are few, but they are difficult to equal, and impossible to beat.”
Constant also used the smaller format which dominated until about 1850, before moving to a larger camera producing negatives of approximately 23 x 29 cm., and he also coated his prints lightly with albumen, though this has not prevented fading, especially in the earliest proofs.
In 1851/52 Constant began to tone his prints with gold, and possibly altered his printing and focusing, producing prints which are exceptional in terms of their clarity, contrast and tones, the blacks in particular assuming great intensity with violet undertones. The method used was exceptionally stable, so that those which have survived to the present day are in an excellent state of conservation. He used a hexagonal blind-stamp to sign his name, which appears on the recto of many of his prints, while the blind-stamp of his editor, Edouard Mauche, generally appears on the secondary support or mount. He is known to have worked until about 1855/56, though none of his negatives is thought to survive.
Finally, in 1851, James Anderson appeared on the scene. Like Constant, he seems to have preferred albumenized negatives on glass, rather than paper negatives.
It is, however, likely that Anderson had already made a name for himself at an earlier date, as he had inscribed his name alongside Caneva’s in the register of the Caffè Greco as a photographer in 1845, though no photographs on paper or daguerreotypes from that period have so far been attributed to him. Indeed, Thomas doesn’t even mention his name in the above quoted article of 1852.
Anderson began by using a camera measuring 17 x 25 cm., adding larger images of 25 x 35 cm. to his repertoire within a year or two.
Time has wrought changes in the earliest and rarest photographs by Anderson. Printed out on opaque salted paper without numbering, they exhibit a distinctive pinkish colour, exceptional sharpness of detail, and a soft tonality.
The gold-toned prints which he began to make in about 1852/53 are the best conserved of all today, while the largest body of his work was produced after 1853/54, that is, at a later date than the period under consideration here, when he began to sell his work through the publisher, Spithover, and also to number his salts prints, which are distinguished by a light film of albumen, both in the negative and in the positive print which led to the loss of the characteristic pinkishness of the earliest proofs and the appearance of a range of greys which make the photographs clearer and more legible in every detail than the earlier ones.
- Λ Noted by Silvio Negro, in the catalogue ”Mostra della fotografia a Roma dal 1840 al 1915,” an exhibition at Palazzo Braschi in 1953. The information was subsequently reported by P. Becchetti and others.
- Λ We must harbour serious doubts regarding both the date and the attribution in consideration of the fact that Prevost, who was born in 1820 and emigrated to America between 1848 and 1850, seems to have learnt the photographic art from Gustave Le Gray and, therefore, not before 1847/48. No photographs are known to have been made by Prevost before 1853.
- Λ A close friend of Talbot, Calvert Jones learnt the calotype process directly from the inventor in 1842, and only began to obtain satisfactory results after two years of repeated failure. From late 1845 until midsummer 1846, Calvert Jones undertook a grand tour of the Mediterranean which began in the south of France and took him to Malta, Palermo, Naples, Pompeii, Rome, Florence, Bologna and Milan. In this period he took about 120 photographs, including less than 20 in Rome, all the time maintaining contact with Talbot by letter, noting interesting technical details, not only regarding his own attempts, but also regarding those of photographers that he met during his travels, particularly regarding their different approaches to the making of negatives. For further details, see E. Lassam, M. Gray “The Romantic Era, la calotipia in Italia 1845/60” (Alinari 1988).
- Λ Husband and wife, Jacques-Michel Guillot e Amélie Esther Saguez, were identified in the recent catalogue “Ri-conoscere Michelangelo” by M. Maffioli (Giunti, 2014). Often signed with the letter A before the joint surname, the photographs were probably taken by Amelie, who was a painter, while her doctor husband assisted her and wrote up their experiments. For further details see “Eloge du negative,” M.F. Bonetti (Alinari 2010).
- Λ Giacomo Caneva, noted as a “painter and photographer” after 1845 in the register of the Caffè Greco, was still selling daguerreotypes in 1850 at the premises of the publisher, Tommaso Cuccioni (P. Becchetti, “La fotografia a Roma dalle origini alla fine del pontificato di Pio IX° p. 43, and ”Roma dei Fotografi 1846-1878”, Roma 1977).
- Λ The positive prints were made by Talbot’s assistant, Nicolaas Henneman, who operated a licensed Talbotype studio with Thomas August Malone in Reading from 1844 to 1847. Calvert Jones mentions that he waited a long time for the positives to arrive, receiving them at the start of 1848, and saying that he was favourably impressed.
- Λ Writing to Talbot from Malta regarding the interest his photographs had occasioned, Calvert Jones notes “do not worry yourself, I shall not reveal your methods to these gentlemen.”
- Λ Some of these negatives were reprinted by Alinari for the exhibition “The Romantic Era, la calotipia in Italia 1845-60” in 1988, and were included in the catalogue by Robert E. Lassam and Michael Gray.
- Λ Note the presence of scaffolding on the façade of the Tabularium in the photograph belonging to the Fondoromano archive (http://www.fondoromano.com , cat A154), which establishes the date of late 1847 or early 1848.
- Λ Lecchi’s presence in Rome is documented until at least 1849, when he became the first war reporter in history, photographing scenes from the Roman Republic after July of that year. These photographs were known to Silvio Negro, exhibited in the important exhibition of 1953 at Palazzo Braschi, and published in “Album Romano” (S. Negro,1956). The figure of Stefano Lecchi has been more deeply explored by Piero Becchetti (P. Becchetti, 1977, op. cit., pag 36 and 48), and, more recently, by Maria Francesca Bonetti in “Talbot et l’introduction du calotype en Italie” (in “Eloge du negative,” Alinari, 2010), who not only stresses the importance of Lecchi on the European scene, but also suggests correctly that he may have been active in Rome before 1849.
Photographs by Lecchi which portray scenes of Rome, some signed and dated 1849, form part of the Antonetto collection (Colosseo and Tabularium), the collection of the Duchess De Berry (Chiostro di S Giovanni), the Alinari Museum (Interno Colosseo and Villa Borghese), and, above all, in the splendid album “Fotografi di Roma 1849”, containing 41 of his photographs, which is now held by the Getty Research Institute of Los Angeles.
- Λ “...in Lyon, Avignon and Marseilles, I have seen photographs which appear to be talbotypes, though made very quickly. They were done by an Italian named Lecchi…” This letter from Jones to Talbot from Malta was written at the end of 1845.
- Λ The Reverend George Bridge, who had learnt the talbotype directly from Henneman in January, 1846, on condition that he brought back pictures for Talbot from his travels in Syria and Jerusalem, wrote to Talbot in the summer of 1847 from Naples, mentioning that he had met a Signor “Lechie” (sic), whom the King of Naples had ordered to photograph Pompei (one of Lecchi’s photographs of Pompei is now in the Collection of Ruggero Pini, while another, dated 1846, showing the “Casa del Forno” in the Getty Research Institute album, is the earliest known photograph by Lecchi (M. F. Bonetti, 2010, op. cit., note 45).
- Λ Augusto Castelani was an amateur photographer. Only two of his salt prints are known at the present time (Via del Corso, AF1583, which was published in “Il risorgimento dei Romani”, 2010, pag. 37, and Castel S. Angelo, dated May 5th, 1851, and signed ‘Augusto Castellani compose, la luce eseguia,’ published by Silvio Negro in “Nuovo album Romano”, 1965, tav XIV, pag. 20, coll. Fabri). He is known, above all, for having written two important manuscripts describing photography on paper, the first in 1849, the second in 1853/63 (“Notizie di fotografia per Augusto Castellani - Roma 1863” Roma, Archivio di Stato), neither of which was ever published, in which he describes the most important techniques in use in that period.
- Λ Manuscript, 1853/63, op. cit.
- Λ Bridges mentions in a letter of 1847 that in Naples Lecchi “was teaching the art at the rate of 600 francs for a single lesson,” while Jones had written to Talbot in 1845 that Lecchi, who was working in the south of France, “was willing to reveal his secret to anyone (I do not know how many took him up on it) who was prepared to pay him 100 francs.”
- Λ A. Castellani, 1863, op. cit.
- Λ Bridges lists the substances which Lecchi employed and describes the technique for preparing the negative and printing out from it. For further details, see M. F. Bonetti, 2010, op. cit., note 46).
- Λ A. Castellani (1853-63, op. cit.) says that his method was “not lacking in quality.”
- Λ The citation is found in a letter in which Bridges specifies that Lecchi “obtained excellent results, even using poor quality paper (…) I myself have seen him make fourteen photographs in a single morning in Pompei, without a single error…”
- Λ Sutton’s experiences were published many years later in “The British Journal of Photography,” no. 382, August, 1867.
- Λ Richard W. Thomas, “Photography in Rome,” appeared in May, 1852, in “The Art Journal”. The article contains interesting reports of the environment in which early photographers in Rome were working. It was first noted by H. Gernsheim in “History of Photography”,1955, and was treated at greater length by Parry Janis in 1983 in “The Art of The French Calotype.” P. Becchetti, 1989, op. cit., pag 23, note 15, supplies the relevant biographical references. Thomas’s article was published in its complete form in Italian for the first time in “La fotografia, il collezionista e lo storico,” 2008, pp. 191/92.
Sutton and Thomas were met with cordiality and advice. Sutton was helped by Frederic Flacheron, while Thomas was instructed by Robinson, Giacomo Caneva and Giron des Anglonnes. See P. Becchetti, 1989, op. cit., pag 13.
- Λ The method of Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard was described for the first time in a communication to the Academy of Sciences in Paris in January, 1847. The method was further perfected and published anew in 1851 as “Traité de Photographie sur Papier.”
- Λ In Italy it was translated by Enrico Montucci, who added as a postscript his own manual, “Dagherrotipia ed Eliografia,” cfr. P. Becchetti in “Giacomo Caneva e la scuola fotografica romana” 1989, pag. 12.
- Λ In comparison with the method of Talbot, Blanquart-Évrard’s produced a wider tonal range and reduced exposure times by half, while prepared paper could be kept for many months before use. See P. Becchetti, 1989, op. cit. pag 12.
- Λ “Methode theorique et pratique de photographie sur papier.”
- Λ In his “Della fotografia: trattato pratico,” 1855, Caneva cited both methods, though he misspelled the name of the second as “Ghillion Sagues,” saying that “…he (sic) was the first to reduce the operation to the most restricted and economic semplicity”. In his manuscript of 1849, Castellani also got the names of Guillot-Saguez wrong, maintaining, however, that “...it is, perhaps, the best-known, and, with only slight modifications, the method most used by lovers of photography.” He makes no mention at all of Blanquart-Evrard before his manuscript of 1863.
- Λ The collection of 4510 plates of the architect, Ignazio Cugnoni, has been conserved since 1936/38 at the ICCD, Rome, though it probably came originally from the Regio Museo Industriale. It consists of urban scenes and landscapes of Rome and environs, probably made between 1855/60 and 1890. Most of the negatives are glass plates, though some are paper images glued onto glass. Only part of the collection was made by Cugnoni himself; the greater part should be attributed to other photographers, including Baldassarre Simelli. The presence of artists and teachers such as Joris Bertaccini at the Regio Museo Industriale between 1860 and 1880 probably accounts for the accumulation of images relating to the customs, landscape and monuments of Rome. See S. Porretta, “Ignazio Cugnoni Fotografo”, 1976.
- Λ The paper published articles by the likes of Herschel, Brewster, Becquerel and Talbot. (Porretta, 1976, op. cit. pag. 13).
- Λ S. Porretta , 1976, op. cit., pag. 14.
- Λ Archivio Fotografico Comunale di Roma.
- Λ The term was coined by Richard W. Thomas in his article, “Photography in Rome,” mentioned above.
- Λ This term is inscribed on the verso of a photograph by Constant in the collection of Alfred Bruyas: “Ricordo del circolo francese, Roma,1848.”
- Λ This definition was used by Piero Becchetti in “La fotografia a Roma dalle origini al pontificato di Pio IX,” Multigrafica Editrice, Roma, 1977.
- Λ Andrè James used the expression in his paper, ”Alfred Nicolas Normand et l’ art du calotype,” which accompanied a travelling exhibition of works by the photographer in 1978.
- Λ “Roma 1850 - il circolo dei pittori fotografi del Caffè Greco,” (Electa), A Cartier-Bresson, A. Margiotta, and others.
- Λ Of the known members of the group, he is unique in that no photographs or attributions to him are known at the present time. Indeed, we know of him only because Thomas mentions having spent some days with him and Caneva in Tivoli, where Thomas learnt their method of making negatives which he subsequently used with success.
- Λ An Italian transcription of Hunt’s article was published in “La fotografia, il collezionista e lo storico” (Peliti Associati, 2008), pag 192/93.
- Λ Flacheron was awarded a medal in London in 1851, and took part in the exhibition of The Royal Society of Arts in 1852, and the London Photographic Fair of 1853.
- Λ For a more detailed description of this method, see Anne Cartier-Bresson ”Il metodo romano: tra ricerca e adattamento” in “Roma 1850, il Circolo dei pittori fotografi del caffè Greco”, 2004, e Alberto Prandi ”The Roman Process” in “Roma 1840-1870 - La fotografia, il collezionista, lo storico” (Peliti Associati, 2008), pag.17-25.
- Λ One of the reasons they photographed together probably stems from the fact that the wet calotype process required on-site preparation in darkness, meaning that a portable dark-room was available, usually in the form of a coach where the operations could be carried out more efficiently by more than one man. (See A. Cartier-Bresson, 2004, op. cit.)
- Λ W. Thomas, op. cit.
- Λ “…Foremost, we must place Mr. Robinson, well known to all artist and amateur of any denomination in Rome”
- Λ It is known only that Albert Robinson, an English architect, died in Rome in 1868 (M. F. Bonetti, 2010, op. cit. pag. 232). A portrait in the Antonetto Collection (by way of the B. Montanes collection), appears to be a self-portrait; signed Robinson, Becchetti attributed it to Caneva, though this was questioned by M. F. Bonetti in that five other photographs in the same collection and attributable to Robinson are technically similar, displaying a uniform warm brown tonality without white surfaces (which are found in photographs of the same period by Caneva, whose prints are of a similar hue).
- Λ Borioni is known by two photographs only: S. Maria Maggiore, AF2892, Villa Medici, AF2893.
- Λ Castrioni is known for a photograph of the Arch of Titus, dated in pen 1856, though probably taken a year or two earlier, conserved at the Archivio Fotografico Comunale di Roma - AF2948, and a view of Porto di Ripa Grande, which belongs to the collection of the Istituto d’ Arte Chierici di Reggio Emilia – inv. 58433.
- Λ Nine salt prints from paper negatives from 1853/55 mentioned in the catalogue as numbers 268/276 are unattributed, though clearly of the Scuola Romana.
- Λ Three salt prints from paper negatives by another unknown calotypist are held by the Fondoromano Archive A278, 279, 280. Two identical prints of the Foro Traiano and S. Pietro, and a third, again of S. Pietro, were included in the Binoche et Giquello auction, December, 2011, as lots 87, 88, 89 . Eight more prints by the same unidentified maker have recently appeared on the market, suggesting that he may have been a professional working in Rome in the years 1853/55 and not simply a photographer who was passing through.
- Λ The main body of Normand’s work consisting of images made from about 1851 (which were probably never the subject of commercial exploitation) are conserved in the collection of the Museè d’Orsay, and come directly from his heirs. All of his photographs used the paper negative and are printed on opaque salted paper of small dimensions (18 x 23 cm. circa). The use of poor lenses lends an effect of slight blurring of the image at the edges due to the short focal length favoured by amateurs at that time (as discussed by Anne Cartier-Bresson, 2004 op. cit, pag. 23/24). An exhibition of more than thirty of his salt prints of Rome was organised in 1978 accompanied by publication entitled “Alfred Nicolas Normand” which included the above-mentioned essay by Andrè James ”Alfred Nicolas Normand et l’ art du calotype” (publisher not indicated).
- Λ In 1852 Le Dien made a series of about 120 salt paper prints from paper negatives which were very large (24 x 33 cm. circa), about half of which were made in Rome and often of unusual subjects, such as a view of Piazza Mattei taken from the top of Trinità dei Monti, which forms part of the group of 58 splendid photographs (26 of Rome, while the others were made in Naples, Paestum, Pompei, Salerno and Amalfi). The group was auctioned by CASA D’ASTA? (Consultant : Monsieur Boulanger) on 23/02/2013, revealing a notable accomplishment which probably reflects the techniques he had learnt from his teacher, Gustave Le Gray, who also took part in the printing stage, signing some of the images with his own ink-stamp, which is evident alongside the name of Le Dien.
- Λ One of his photographs of the Forum, part of the Museo Nazionale Fratelli Alinari collection, is shown in “Eloge du negatif,” op. cit., pag 91.
- Λ Davanne took a series of images which are dated and signed in the negative “Roma 1853,” two of which are held by the Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris (see Becchetti, 1989, op. cit, pag.13). They are all made from paper negatives, some printed by Bisson as lightly albumenized salt prints which bear his mark on the mount (see the examples in AFC and Fondoromano A082). One of his negatives of Castel S. Angelo was recently offered at auction (17/12/2007, Million, lot 15 ).
- Λ His photograph of the Temple of Vesta dated 1852 is held by the Societè Francaise de Photographie.
- Λ More information regarding this extraordinary photographer from Lombardy whose activities began in 1845, about the same time as Stefano Lecchi, can be found in M. Miraglia, “Luigi Sacchi Lucigrafo a Milano, 1805-1861”, Rom, 1996. His presence in Rome was documented for some months in 1853, but he was certainly there in the two previous years, when he established relations with Giacomo Caneva and other Roman photographers. A series of fine, large format (27 x 34 cm, circa) salt prints of Rome were published in loose bindings as ”Monumenti, vedute e costumi d’Italia” between 1852 and 1855, a total of 100 photographs (the four volumes being two of Central Italy, one of the north and one of the south). Many of these prints come from the collection of the painter, Francesco Hayez, in the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera which are now held by ING (Rome). They offer many unusual viewpoints of Rome (Porta Asinaria, for example), or are taken from different angles than those which prevailed among the more traditional Roman ‘vedutists.’
- Λ Bondini’s contribution of the Roman school of photography consists of 16 views of the Via Appia which appear in ”Della Via Appia e dei Sepolcri degli Antichi Romani”, one of the first guidebooks illustrated with photographs, and for which he was awarded a gold medal by the Vatican state in 1854. The photographs are salted paper prints of large format (21 x 31 cm. circa) of high quality which have evidently been toned with gold. The complete work is extremely rare (though one exists in the Avery Architectural Library, New York), and unbound examples appeared on the market only as a consequence of the dispersal of the collection of the Duchesse De Berry.
- Λ Recent studies by M. F. Bonetti, beginning with the magnificent collection of W. Bruce Lundberg (“Steps off the beaten path,” Rome, 2008), have highlighted the role of De Bonis as one of the most artistically gifted photographers to have operated in Rome in the early period. His presence there shortly after 1850 is evidenced by a single salt print probably from a paper negative) of the Colosseo seen from Via di San Giovanni in Laterano, and stampe AdB on the verso of the card mount which dates from 1852 (Archivio Barbara e Giovanni Fanelli, see article: http://www.historyphotography.org/doc/Andrea_Sciolari.pdf).
The fact that all his other photographs of Rome are dated 1858/60 suggests that he may have stopped over for a short time in the period when the Scuola romana di fotografia was at its most active, though certainly long enough to have gained a reputation as a capable and gifted operator. His relations with Caneva in the first instance, and, later, with Simelli, have still to be adequately explored.
- Λ For details regarding the views produced and the relations between the photographers, vendors and purchasers, see “Fotografi e collezionisti, il caso Romano” M. F. Bonetti, in “Roma 1840-1870, la fotografia il collezionista e lo storico” 2008, catalogue of the Maggia Collection.
- Λ Until 1852, there is very little evidence of any organised commerce in photographs in Rome. Indeed, the photographer was often a one-man enterprise, preparing his own negatives, taking pictures, printing them, and often selling them, too. Beginning in 1853 a number of entrepreneurs stepped into the gap, including Spithover, Mouche, Luswergh, Cuccioni and others, who seem to have undertaken to sell photographs made by one or more operators, often becoming photographers themselves in the process (notably Luswergh and Cuccioni).
- Λ See M. F. Bonetti ,2008, op.cit..
- Λ For information regarding the theme of landscape in early Italian photography, see M. Miraglia, “La fotografia e il paesaggio,” 2006, and ”Simelli e il paesaggio,” 2007.
- Λ The best biographical information can be found in “Eloge du negative,” pagg. 217-237, and “Roma 1840-1870, la fotografia il collezionista e lo storico,” 2008, pagg.197-201.
- Λ He used a ‘verres combinès’ lens which he had received from Charles Chevalier, as he mentions in a letter of 1851, which is published in “La fotografia, il collezionista e lo storico,” 2008, pag. 193
- Λ It should be noted that Flacheron also made smaller format photographs alongside the larger ones, but only until about 1850.
- Λ A. Cartier Bresson , op. cit. p. 25. Also Becchetti, who cites the article by Sutton which mentions that Flacheron favoured heavy paper and toned his prints with hyposulphite and acetic acid.
- Λ Sutton mentions in his article that Flacheron’s prints were prone to fading, demonstrating that the fault was already evident and that it is not the result of subsequent ageing.
- Λ Paradoxically, Flacheron’s capacity to make paper negatives which highlighted every detail is best understood today by examining the only known albumen print from his hand made in the late 1850s belonging to the Alinari Museum, Florence (Acquedotto Claudio PDC-F-000771-0000).
- Λ See P. Becchetti “La fotografia a Roma dalle origini al 1915,” Rome, 1983, “Giacomo Caneva e la scuola romana di fotografia,” Rome, 1989, and “L’ immagine di Roma 1848/95,” Rome, 1994.
- Λ Earlier critical opinions of Caneva espressed by Sivio Negro (who had, by the way, together with Valerio Cianfrani, found the photograph dated 1847) were not particularly flattering: “this painter (…) also made some photographs of no particular merit with the camera obscura. The anonymous makers of the paper negatives which open this volume leave the Venetian landscape painter leagues behind.” He would, no doubt, have revised his opinion of Caneva, if he had known that the ‘anonymous author’ and the ‘Venetian painter’ were one and the same person!
- Λ A. Cartier-Bresson, 2004, op.cit., pag. 24.
- Λ See also the Arco di Costantino frontale in the Montanes collection, cat. 63, and Il Colosseo AF2895 (Archivio Fondoromano).
- Λ See the Arco di Tito, Arco di Costantino visto di scorcio, or Le terme di Caracalla, Montanes cat.11.
- Λ See the Pine woods of Castel Fusano, or the Tivoli Falls, from the collection of the Duchesse De Berry.
- Λ In his manual Caneva notes that to darken the tones he sometimes rinsed a negative with acidulated water before fixing it with sodium thiosulfate.
- Λ See Tempio di Saturno, or Tevere a Castel S Angelo, both in the Bibliothèque Nationale of France, foglio 44 and 45, album Caneva, Campidoglio and Trinità dei Monti, Archivio Fondoromano- A410, A41, or Tempio di Vesta, Museo Alinari.
- Λ In preparing negatives he moved away from the wet system favoured by Guillot-Sageuz to an alternative wet method which involved waxing the negative on one or both sides, long before Le Gray published his method for dry negatives.
- Λ For example, the view of Porta Asinara, Fondoromano, A015.
- Λ Santa Maria Maggiore taken from beneath the cross of Enrico IV (BNF album, Caneva foglio 78),or the Gardens of Villa Medici as seen from the portico (in the private collection of M. Antonetto, Lugano).
- Λ One notable example is the view of the Temple of Saturn published by P. Becchetti,1989, op. cit pag 39.
- Λ The attribution of these negatives to Caneva by P. Becchetti can be found in the text referred to above in note 68.
- Λ Of particular interest are the photographs that Caneva brought back from China, having accompanied the expedition organised by Castellani and Freschi in 1859. A dozen examples can be found in the collection of Ruggero Pini (“Caneva en Chine,” (Csaba Morocz Photographies, Paris), as well as examples printed later using albumen of Roman subjects which are attributed to Caneva in the Maggia Collection (cat. 262-266), and also in the Archivio Fondoromano (A273-276,311,312,103, 235).
- Λ Caneva’s handwritten titling can be seen in the online publication of his holdings in the BNF.
- Λ The method was presented for the first time to the Academy of Sciences in Paris on 25th October, 1847.
- Λ A. Prandi, 2008, op. cit.
- Λ An example can be seen in the album “Rome 1857” in the ’Archivio Fotografico Comunale di Roma,’ AF7031.
- Λ The two earliest photographs by Anderson are those in the Montanes collection which were incorrectly attributed to Caneva by Piero Becchetti, a view of the Vatican from the River Tiber above Ponte S. Angelo, and a lateral view of the Temple of Antonino and Faustina with a cart in the foreground. The Montanes prints were so faded that Becchetti took them for paper negatives. Better preserved examples in the Archivio Fondoromano have removed all doubts about the type of negative employed, while the later print of the Temple of Antonino and Faustina image in the Anderson album in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France permits us to correct the mistaken attribution.
- Λ See the examples in the De Berry collection, cat 6, 23, 24.
- Λ We know from Silvio Negro that in 1853 Anderson’s photographs were being offered for sale by the Piale bookshop in Rome.
- Λ It was probably added to the collodion on the glass plate.
- Λ A refining of the process of sulphurization and gold toning.