The Idea of Italy Photography and the British Imagination, 1840-1900 Maria Antonella Pelizzari, Scott Wilcox

Publication date:
26 Apr 2022
YC British Art
288 pages: 279 x 222mm
180 color illus.
Sales territories:


A unique portrait of nineteenth-century Italy as seen through the eyes of the first generation of British photographers

This book examines the ways in which the new medium of photography influenced the British exploration, appreciation, and perception of Italy in the mid-nineteenth century. Sixteen scholarly essays address topics such as the origins of photography; the rise in popularity of cartes de visite, illustrated novels, and tourist albums; and images of regional “types” and heroes of the Risorgimento. Extensive plates, reproduced at full size and including many previously unpublished images, feature the work of artists including Robert Macpherson, Calvert Richard Jones, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Agnes and Dora Bulwer. Situating these photographic works within a longer history of image-making that begins with drawings and paintings from the eighteenth-century Grand Tour, through the photographic inventions of William Henry Fox Talbot and Louis Daguerre, and extending into twentieth-century artistic practices, this study considers photography as a vehicle of cultural exchange and visual translation.

Maria Antonella Pelizzari is professor of art history at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Scott Wilcox is the former deputy director for collections at the Yale Center for British Art.