SEATTLE.- Roman Holiday (1953) was one of the first movies shot on location rather than a sound stage. Critics have suggested that the city of Rome is as much its star as Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The dramatic shots of famous monuments that punctuate the filmwhat we might call postcard views--survey the city in the same way as the photographs included in this exhibition.
When they were made, these photographs of the famous elements of Rome responded to a distinct market. There was considerable demand for images of tourist sites, whether they would commemorate an actual trip or provide fodder for reverie. The photographs on display show some of the highlights of the capitol of Italy: extensive Roman ruins, some of them remodeled to serve later functions (such as the Pantheon or Castel SantAngelo); the great pilgrimage churches (St. Peters, Sta. Maria Maggiore, S. Lorenzo fuori le mure); and extraordinary works of art (Michelangelos early sculpture of the Pieta, Raphaels decoration of the papal chambers in the Vatican). Although concerned about providing a characteristic image that would sell, photographers such as Giuseppe Ninci, Eugéne Constant, Giorgio Sommer, Giaocchino Altobelli, Robert MacPherson, and James Anderson inevitably put their own unique vision into the archetypal images they produced. The flip side of their seriousness is the underlying subject of Douglas Hueblers Location Piece #25, Rome , which depends on the ubiquity of postcard sellers interrupting contemporary attempts to photograph these same facades. Amassing a range of striking images collected over the years by Professors Joseph and Elaine Monsen, this exhibition affords all of us a virtual tour of the Eternal City as well as a reminder of the visual pleasures of early photography.