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main index © Jeff Matthews entry Nov 2008
(1834-1914) was an early pioneer of photography in
Naples. He was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
After beginning his career in Switzerland, he moved
to Naples in 1857and opened a photographic studio.
His first major works were from the battlefields of
the wars of Italian unification, particularly the siege of Gaeta in early
1861, when the last Bourbon forces fell to the army
of the new nation of Italy. He also documented for
the new government the subsequent suppression of
in the south (“bandits” usually meaning Bourbon
holdouts who refused to lay down their arms).
Sommer’s main activity, however, was the kind of photography more attractive to tourists: landscapes and photographs of Greek and Roman ruins as well as photographic reproductions of paintings. He also manufactured reproductions of ancient vases and other artifacts. Sommer also photographed on Malta, in Sicily, Rome, Florence and Milan. He displayed internationally and received a number of awards.
photography of Naples between 1865 and 1900 is
interesting; there is always Mt. Vesuvius waiting to
provide a spectacular shot every few decades, but
Sommer also provides views of the city before the Risanamento, the great wave
of urban renewal that started in the mid-1880’s.
[Also see Early Photography in Naples]
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