Steps Off the Beaten Path

At the end of the nineteenth century, after over a millennium of papal domination, Rome was on its way to becoming a modern city and the capital of a unified Italy. By 1860 the medium of photography, which had been in existence for less than three decades, was also entering a phase of change: daguerreotypes had run their course, paper negatives and salted paper prints gave way to glass plates and albumen prints. A group of photographers began aiming their lenses at the streets, recording everyday scenes alongside ruins of the eternal city and thus foreshadowing what would later be called “street photography.” This volume gathers an important corpus of works by Vincenzo Carlo Domenico Baldassarre Simelli, Gustave Eugène Chauffourier, A. De Bonis, and Edmond Lebel. The fleeting images recorded by these photographers convey a sense of intimacy and innocence that is largely absent in other Italian works from the same period. They also capture the charm of Roman byways, many of them subsequently swept away by modern development.
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