Last Chance to See Steps off the Beaten Path at the Clark

For Immediate Release

December 14, 2009

Take a “walking tour” of Rome while visiting the Steps off the Beaten Path: Nineteenth-Century Photographs of Rome and its Environs exhibition at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. This exhibition of 100 photographs taken between 1850 and 1880 includes recognizable sites and out-of-the-way scenes nineteenth-century Romans and Europeans encountered in their daily lives. This exhibition closes on Sunday, January 3. Admission is free.

During the 1860s and ’70s, Rome was on its way to becoming a modern city and the capital of a unified Italy at the same time that photography was experiencing its own renaissance. Early techniques such as daguerreotypes, paper negatives, and salted prints were replaced by albumen prints from glass negatives that produced a precise image. Photographers of the Eternal City began to capture everyday scenes alongside ancient ruins, Baroque churches, and backstreets on the verge of being transformed by industrialization. These photos walk a fine line between documentation and art, while providing a fresh and modern look at nineteenth-century Rome.

Organized geographically, the exhibition Steps off the Beaten Path gathers works by Vincenzo Carlo Domenico Baldassarre Simelli, Gustave Eugène Chauffourier, Robert MacPherson, James Anderson, A. De Bonis, and Edmond Lebel, some of the most accomplished photographers of their day. The exhibition complements the Clark’s paintings of Rome such as Camille Corot’s The Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome, which is represented in several photographs.

Steps off the Beaten Path was first presented at the American Academy in New York and Rome between 2006 and 2008, and draws works from the Collection of W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg. The project was curated by Dr. Bruce Lundberg and Princeton architectural historian John Pinto. Jay A. Clarke, the Clark’s Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, worked with Ralph Lieberman, a photographer, art historian, and guest curator for the Clark presentation. Lieberman provides an artist’s perspective on selected images in the exhibition with special wall texts.

The Clark’s collection of photographs dates from the invention of photography to the early twentieth century and now comprises nearly 1,000 works. The collection includes important photographs by Gustave Le Gray, Édouard Baldus, Nadar, Eugène Atget, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, Francis Frith, Roger Fenton, Carleton Watkins, William Bradford, Winslow Homer, and Alfred Stieglitz. The collection of works on paper may be viewed by appointment in the department’s study room. To arrange a visit, call 413-458-2303, extension 360.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm (open daily in July and August). Admission is free November through May. Adult admission is charged June 1 through October 31; free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit clarkart.edu.

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