Firenze. Loggia dell’Orcagna. Cart. Inv. nel 1910.
Piazza della Signoria in the 1950s
Panorama da San Miniato, quanto gli alberi erano ancora bassi e si poteva osservare meglio il panorama. View of Florence from San Miniato, when the trees were still low and you could better see the panorama.
Giardini della Fortezza. Famiglia in posa per una foto ricordo. Anno 1910. Gardens of the Fortezza di Basso, a family posing for a picture in 1910.
Lo struscio sul Ponte Vecchio. Strolling on the Ponte Vecchio.
Borgo Ognissanti, negozio Sale e Tabacchi del 1910.
I recently posted an intriguing video about The Mona Lisa. Now, here is a further mystery, utilizing some of the same experts and scholars, the same scientific techniques.
Photographed here is a beautifully-dressed Alice Austen:
Before Diane Arbus and Helen Levitt, there was Austen, one of the earliest female photographers in the country, who produced more than 8,000 images over the course of a long life that began in 1866.
She was, additionally, a landscape designer, a cyclist, an expert tennis player and the first woman on her native Staten Island to own a car. She took her camera everywhere — documenting immigrant communities in New York, street life, lawn tennis matches, her friends, parties, interiors. She often lugged around equipment weighing as much as 50 pounds.
When looking through a photograph album at the Alinari archives, I was shown this photograph of the Duomo in Florence taken sometime before 1874 when the album was created.
When you zero in on the facade of the Duomo, things get very interesting. Instead of the brightly colored and highly embellished facade on the cathedral that one sees nowadays in Florence, this photograph reveals that the facade was left unfinished and unembellished after the Renaissance.
The following photo, of the Duomo today, shows the facade that was added to the building in the 1870s.
If you were a young, aristocratic European man in the late 18th through 19th centuries, you might well have taken a Grand Tour. After finishing your formal education, you would take a kind of gap year (or year and a half), traveling to and through the finest European capitals, including, in Italy, cities such as Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome and Naples.
You might have asked Alinari Brothers or another similar firm to create an album for you, comprised of their photographs of your favorite places. The Fratelli Alinari archives in Florence have many of these albums in their archives, and I had the opportunity to look at one of them from 1874.
It begins with a hand-tooled red leather cover. The book measures roughly 20 x 30 inches.
The Frontispiece reveals that this album was created in Naples, by the Giorgio Sommer firm.
This particular album begins with photographs of Torino, Milano, and Venice, as here:
This album then moves to Firenze, and here are 3 images from this section of the book:
Next, the book moves on visually to Rome. Here is a picture of oxen pulling carts through the Roman forum.
Then it was on to Naples. The following is a picture of Mt. Vesuvius erupting in 1872.
I could (and will) spend hours looking through these albums!
According to my guide at the Alinari archives, an album like this would have cost a young gentleman about $1500 in today’s money.