Naples: A Delousing Scene Re-Enacted in the Studio, Giorgio Sommer
Giorgio Sommer
Naples: A Delousing Scene Re-Enacted in the Studio
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Giorgio Sommer

Naples: A Delousing Scene Re-Enacted in the Studio, ca. 1870

25.5 x 20.6 cm
32.9 x 24.3 cm
Physical Description
Albumen print mounted on cardboard
Inventory Number
Ancient holdings. Acquired in the 19th century
Not on display


About the Work

Naples held great appeal for tourists not only because of its charming coastal scenery and awe-inspiring Mount Vesuvius, but also thanks to its customs and traditions. Particularly from the 1880s onwards, Italian-based photographers increasingly marketed studies of human beings that shaped and continually fuelled the cliché of the poor but carefree population of Southern Italy. With his outsider’s perspective on the Italian culture, the native Frankfurter Giorgio Sommer contributed to shaping the visual habits of tourists. For some of his genre depictions he had the models simulate supposedly everyday activities in his studio. One such staged scene idealizes poverty by showing an old woman “delousing” two street urchins. These motifs’ popularity was in fact an expression of an entirely different reality: the longing of the photographs’ buyers for a supposedly still intact archaic way of life that represented the antithesis of the industrialized society plagued by noise, hustle, and bustle.

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