Although not an official faculty, the BSR has long been a hub for photography. The photographic collections of the BSR are extensive, with staff and fellows documenting crucial records of Italian history and European classical studies from the advent of the invention of photography, onwards. Photography formed an important part of the scholars and BSR associates’ research, with several collections documenting historic remains, architecture, topography and the communities of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Italy. This image from the Gardner collection of architecture scholar J. S. Beaumont, (c.1914), suggests the continual evolution and increasing accessibility of this technology was also cause for play, exploration and re-evaluation of traditional methodologies.
Photographic records in the BSR archive, such as the Parker collection, begin with the earliest form of negatives: egg white albumen on glass sheets which were treated in light sensitive chemicals. Later photographs in the BSR collections dating from the nineteenth century, include silver nitrate glass negatives such as those in the collection of the Bulwer sisters. Most of these images relate to the archaeology, architecture, arts and topography of the regions around Rome being studied by the school from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. The BSR’s photography collections include the Ashby, Bulwer, Gardner, Mackey, Parker and Ward-Perkins collections plus other photography from the period such as images captured by Cesare Faraglia who was an official photographer for several Roman institutes.
For many artists in this period, photography and cinema had dispensed with the desire to create realist imagery. Although the Fine Arts Scholars at the BSR were usually not encouraged to adopt contemporary themes and technology, it is possible to trace in the BSR archives some of the impact that photography and the moving image were beginning to make on art practice at the School. Sculptors such as Alfred Hardiman (1891-1949) and John Skeaping (1901-1980) made photographs of Rome’s sculpture and art and their own models to assist their processes, several of such images can be seen in the BSR archive. There are also many photographs of the artists at work and on their travels. Scholars and faculty made use of photography in their lectures and publications such as the images projected through the Magic Lantern.
The archives holds several pieces of equipment and artefacts from these various stages of photographic history, such as a restored Magic Lantern and several cameras, see here.
Explore the Photography in the BSR’s Digital Collections.
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For a full bibliography and further reading, see here.