Romualdo Moscioni. Apulia Monumentale

The photographer’s technique

The Apulia Monumentale series contains a number of photographs that might at first sight be described as technical failures. Regardless of their defects, Moscioni nonetheless offered them for sale in his catalogue – a clear indication that the aesthetic success of his photographs ultimately took second place to his desire to offer the largest possible range of illustrations of the Apulian cultural landscape, and that even faulty photographs held a commercial value.
It is precisely on account of their technical imperfections, however, that these pictures are of particular interest to historians of photography, since they provide an insight into the methods used by photographers at the end of the 19th century. In the print of two columns and their capitals from the Palatine Basilica of San Nicola in Bari, for example, the large black patches along the edges correspond to areas of the negative where the light-sensitive coating has flaked off. Photographs such as these point to the difficulties involved in working with the collodion wet plate process. In other pictures, such as that of the tomb of Riccardo Falcone in Santa Margherita in Bisceglie, it is clear that the glass negative is broken and that Moscioni has joined the pieces in order to make the contact print.

R. Moscioni, Bari, San Nicola, column capitals, print from a wet plate negative with damaged collodion layer, 1891/92, albumen print, 38.3 × 25.7 cm, Neg. 5427, KHI Nr. 4172

R. Moscioni, Bisceglie, Santa Margarita, tomb of Riccardo Falcone, print from a broken negative, 1891/92, albumen print, 38.9 × 25.9 cm, Neg. 5484, KHI Nr. 4221

R. Moscioni, Bisceglie, S. Margarita, 1891/92, tomb of Riccardo Falcone, broken glass negative, 30 × 40 cm, N. 5484 (replaced), Neg. XXVIII.9.6, Fondo Moscioni, Fototeca Musei Vaticani

R. Moscioni, Bitonto, Cathedral of San Valentino, print from a damaged negative, 1891/92, albumen print, 39.4 × 26.8 cm, Neg. 5455, KHI Nr. 4228

R. Moscioni, Altamura, Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, 1891/92, albumen print, 39.6 × 27 cm, Neg. 5379, KHI Nr. 4132

R. Moscioni, Altamura, Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, 1891/92, albumen print, 39.8 × 27.5 cm, Neg. 5380, KHI Nr. 4133

R. Moscioni, Bitonto, Palazzo Sylos, 1891/92, albumen print, 37.6 × 25.7 cm, Neg. 5473, KHI Nr. 4245

R. Moscioni, Balsignano, San Felice, 1891/92, albumen print, 39.4 × 26.4 cm, Neg. 5479, KHI Nr. 4164

R. Moscioni, Bitonto, Cathedral of San Valentino, interior with column and capital, 1891/92, albumen print from wet plate negative with solarization caused by exposure to light while developing, 38.8 × 25.6 cm, Neg. 5469, KHI Nr. 4236

R. Moscioni, Bitonto, Cathedral of San Valentino, pulpit, 1891/92, albumen print, 39.3 × 26.0 cm, Neg. 5462, KHI Nr. 4237

R. Moscioni, Valenzano, Chiesa Ognissanti, 1891/92, albumen print, 39.3 × 27.9 cm, Neg. 5613, KHI Nr. 4344

R. Moscioni, Gravina, cathedral, interior, 1891/92, albumen print, 27.1 × 40.1 cm, Neg. 5532, KHI Nr. 4273

© KHI in Florence | 22.09.2020 16:20:54