Gioacchino Altobelli had previously been active as a history and portrait painter. Here he staged Christian Rome in a photographic composition distinguished by the utmost harmony. The Ponte Sant’Angelo with its Baroque sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini divides the pictorial field about halfway between top and bottom, leaving plenty of space for the reflections of St Peter’s Basilica and the Castel Sant'Angelo in the smooth surface of the Tiber. The photographer was judicious in his choice of staffage in the foreground. The pipe smoker’s fishing rod and the long stick leaning against the shoulder of the man on the bank point the viewer’s gaze to the main monuments, which appear all the more imposing
as a result. At the same time, with the fishing motif Altobelli was alluding to symbolic imagery widespread in the Christian pictorial tradition. He was one of the city’s most successful photographers.