Portrait of a City
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It’s the city where history, spectacle, and sensuality collude around every corner, where Baroque drama flourishes alongside ancient Classical wonders. Where necks crane to admire Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, where Fellini made Dolce Vita history, and where Mussolini crafted fascist ideology into the mega-structures of EUR. This bumper photographic portrait of Rome brings together hundreds of photographs from the early 19th century through to today to explore the extraordinary history, beauty, and art of this incomparable cultural capital. Through some 500 sepia, black-and-white, and color images, the collection brings photographers like Giacomo Caneva, Pompeo Molins, Giuseppe Primoli, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Carlo Bavagnoli, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Pasquale De Antonis, Peter Lindbergh, Slim Aarons, and William Klein to reveal Rome in its many compelling guises: as nexus of the Ancient Roman Empire, as hotbed of the Renaissance, as treasured travel destination, as a rich patchwork of varied neighborhoods, as home to the Vatican and center of the Roman Catholic church, as political stage, and as perfect backdrop to film and fashion shoots.
Reaching back into illustrious archives, some of the book’s early images offer us a privileged Grand Tour glimpse on some of Rome’s most treasured landmarks, revealing the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Spanish Steps almost void of crowds. Later pictures survey the city’s contrasts – from the luxurious homes and leisure activities of the privileged to street stalls and laundry lines in the working class districts of Trastevere and Testaccio. Some documentary-style shots show us the dark power of Mussolini, the city bedecked with his own iconography and imagery of strength, athleticism, and the fatherland. As color photography comes in, the city transitions from a neo-realismo aesthetic to post-war recovery and hedonism: all the glamorous gowns, exotic celebrities, and Via Veneto café culture immortalized by Fellini. Several famous faces are here: Louis Armstrong, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Lauren, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Anna Magnani, Valentino.