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Folio (38 x 34cm).
Stock No. 7207
As well as publishing and selling his own images to customers across Europe, he later photographed images for book illustrations and printed his own albums and postcards. Using all the formats of photography of his day, Sommer also created large albumen prints (approximately 8”x10”), which were sold either individually or, as in this case, in high quality bound albums.
The Albumen print, also called the albumen silver print, was invented in 1850 by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard and was the first commercially exploitable method of producing a photographic print on a paper base from a negative. It used the albumen from egg whites to bind the photographic chemicals to the paper and it became the dominant form of photographic positives from 1855 to the turn of the 20th century.
The National Archaeological Museum of Naples – Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli – is Italy’s most important museum of antiquities, housing one of the world’s best collections of Greek and Roman artifacts, including mosaics, sculptures, gems, glass, bronze and silver and a collection of Roman erotica from Pompeii. Many of the objects have come from excavations at Pompeii, Herculaneum and other significant archaeological sites, including Egypt.
The building that houses the museum was completed at the beginning of the 17th century and was inaugurated as the “Palace of Royal Studies” in 1615, becoming the seat of the university of Naples. When the university was moved to other premises in 1777, King Ferdinand lV commissioned the architect Ferdinando Fuga to restore and adapt the building to accommodate the Bourbon Museum and Royal Library. At the turn of the 19th century, the sumptuous Farnese collection of pictures, books and antiquities were moved in from the Capodimonte museum and various royal residences. Shortly afterwards, the finds from Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae, were to become part of the collection.
In this album of albumen prints, Giorgio Sommer has captured the essence of the museum as he found it in the second half of the 19th century, choosing to reproduce the photographs untitled. In identifying many of the descriptions below, reference was made to the British Library Archives transcription of ‘A Complete Handbook to Naples Museum’ by Domenico Monaco, curator of the museum. The English edition was by E. Neville-Rolfe Esq BA, Heacham Hall, England. It was the 6th edition, published in Naples in 1893.