Firetti Contemporary Dubai takes a grand tour of historic photographs

Mara Firetti, founder of the Firetti Contemporary gallery.

Mohammad Yusuf, Feature Writer

Firetti Contemporary inaugurated The Grand Tour: A Photographic Journey to Italy (September 1 – November 25), an exhibition opened by Dr. Claudio Rammuno, Deputy Head of Mission, First Secretary and Head of the Consular Chancellery of the Italian Embassy , Abu Dhabi.

For the first time in the United Arab Emirates, forty vintage photographs and four original albums by the most eminent photographers working in Italy between 1850 and 1890 are on display, allowing viewers to experience the beauty and grandeur of Italy’s scenic history. ‘Italy.

Participants can enjoy the view of “must see” tourist destinations in famous cities such as Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Palermo, Taormina, among others. Curated by Michele Bonuomo and Mara Firetti, the exhibition includes the works of legendary photographers, whose biographies follow.

“Created to capture memories of the cultural heritage that was part of their identity,” explains the gallery, “The Grand Tour was an exciting journey developed by legendary photographers, who set out to travel the major cities of Europe, in search of history and art.

Firetti 1 This is how Giacomo Brogi considered Castel dell’Ovo, Naples, in 1885.

“Their journey took them through famous capitals such as London and Saint Petersburg, to iconic cities in Italy or the ancient ‘garden of the empire'”.

By the end of the 17th century, the Grand Tour had become a ritual of cultural education for young European aristocrats, serving as a training trip with an itinerary that included the sites of classical and Renaissance culture.

Italy was the preferred destination because it was – and is – rich in works of art and vestiges of ancient architecture which, for the European culture of the time, represented both the essence of the Roman world and the Renaissance.

The photographs, which were among the most sought-after souvenirs of their adventures, were usually taken by the great European photographers of the second half of the 19th century, at a time when owning a camera was a privilege reserved for the few.

By the early 1850s, The Grand Tour had begun to champion the rapid development of photography and its respective markets. Most travelers who did not own cameras bought the photos as souvenirs during the stages of their trip.

Firetti 3 Image taken by Fratelli Alinari of the ancient city gate of Porta Capuana in Naples, 1880.

Today, images are among the most collected memories, with entire platforms dedicated to storing and compiling online albums by professional photographers and anyone who may or may not hold a camera.

Here is a Grand Tour of some of the photographers involved in the exhibition: August Alfred Noack (1833 – 1895), was a German-Italian photographer and one of the pioneers of photography. The Alinari Brothers (Fratelli Alinari) are the oldest company in the world operating in the field of photography. It was founded in Florence in 1852 by the brothers Leopoldo (1832-1865), Giuseppe (1836-1890) and Romualdo Alinari (1830-1890). Their company was the first photographic company admitted to the service of the Vatican Museums, the Louvre and various Italian museums.

Carlo Naya (1816 – 1882) was an Italian photographer, known for his photographs of the city of Venice. Giacomo Brogi (1822 – 1881) was an Italian photographer. He carried out several photographic campaigns in the Italian regions and organized an important “expedition” to the Middle East.

Alphonse Bernoud (1820 – 1889) was a French photographer. Pioneer of photography, he became the photographer of the court of the Bourbons first, then of the House of Savoy.

Robert Rive (born around 1825 – died after 1889) was a French photographer. He took many photographs of the excavations of Pompeii, ancient Roman sculptures and also the first casts of victims of the eruption of Vesuvius in ’79. He was one of the first photographers to produce stereographic views, which were highly valued as souvenirs.

Firetti 4 A view of the photographic exhibition.

Giorgio Sommer (1834 – 1914) was an Italian-German photographer. His catalog included images of the Vatican Museums, the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, the Roman ruins of Pompeii, the streets and architecture of Naples, Florence, Rome, Capri and Sicily. Gioacchino Altobelli (1814 – died after 1878) was an Italian painter and photographer. Many Roman views he produced were presented at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1867.

James Isaac Atkinson Anderson (1813 — 1877) was a British painter and photographer who moved to Rome in 1838. Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814 — 1872) was a Scottish photographer. He was active in Rome in the 19th century. He was the first photographer allowed to photograph inside the Vatican.

Antonio D’Alessandri (1818 — 1893) and Paolo Francesco D’Alessandri (1824 – 1889) were two Italian photographers, mainly active in Rome. They are considered the first war photojournalists in Italy.

Wilhelm von Pluschow (1852 – 1930), was a German photographer. Wilhelm Iwan Friederich August von Gloeden (1856 – 1931) was a German photographer working mainly in Italy. He was known for his landscape photography, which helped spread tourism in Italy; he also documented the damage caused by the Messina earthquake in 1908.

Achille Mauri (1835 – died after 1909) was one of the pioneers of photography. He was a well-known and sought-after portrait painter by the Neapolitan bourgeoisie and was also a reportage photographer.

Gaetano D’Agata (1883 – 1949) was an Italian landscape photographer who focused on the town of Taormina before World War II. D’Agata has visited Ireland, Spain, India and the United States.

“With this exhibition, Firetti Contemporary opens its doors to cross-cultural exchange of Italian history and culture through photography,” says the gallery.

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