Leaning tower of Pisa

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Alinari Brothers documented the Leaning Tower of Pisa in its entirety, presenting architectural detail, the strange tilt, and the context of the city and landscape. The glass negative captured fine detail and, combined with the flattened tonality of the albumen paper, created almost an outline of the tower. No people can be seen, suggesting that the photograph was taken in the early morning before Pisa’s pedestrian traffic began. The Alinari brothers entered commercial photography early. In 1852, Leopoldo Alinari set up a photography laboratory in Florence; two years later, he founded the firm known as Fratelli Alinari with his brothers, Giuseppe and Romualdo. They specialized in photographs of art, architecture, and historical monuments, gathering them into sales catalogues for reproduction and also exhibiting their prints. These tourist views were destined for albums as souvenirs of visits to Italy. With increasing fame and commissions, the brothers continued to publish catalogues and enlarge their image archive. By the 1880s, Alinari Brothers had more than a hundred employees and their catalogues had tens of thousands of available photographs.

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