Immagini e memoria: Rome in the photographs of Father Peter Paul Mackey 1890-01
Sir John Soane’s Museum is hosting an exhibition from the photographic archive of the British School at Rome of the work of Fr. Peter Paul Mackey O.P., which presents a record of thecity undergoing rapid modernisation at the end of the nineteenth century. The expansion of the city and its new infrastructure horrified romantic artists in pursuit of a very late Grand Tour, but yielded vast amounts of new material for increasingly professionalised archaeologists. The tension between these two worlds, the simultaneous need to record and the desire to compose, are evident in many of the photographs, the ancient monuments seen against modern factories and before the maturing of present-day urban planting.
In his excellent catalogue essay Dr. Robert Coates-Stephens (Cary Fellow at the BSR) places the Dominican scholar Mackey’s images in their historical context of ‘Roma Capitale’, and the social context of the expatriate community of clerics, archaeologists and aesthetes, a society in which the word amateur still had its original meaning. The atmospherically staged exhibition continues at the Soane Museum until 12 September.
At present CiA staffer Eamonn Canniffe is researching a similar complementary collection of material, that of Captain J. Douglas Kennedy, held at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. The collection presents a haphazard but enthusiastic account of the same dilettante milieu.