James Hyman Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of rare early photographs of Pompeii, taken by Giorgio Sommer.

The most famous record of Pompeii was by Giorgio Sommer, one of the most active photographers in mid-19th century Italy. Sommer’s small scale prints, stereo views, and cartes de visite were widely available doing much to popularise Pompeii as a tourist destination, however the large format images that are the subject of this exhibition are extremely rare and are held by very few museums.

The prints in the exhibition are in exceptional condition, having been kept in storage for over a century, and are being exhibited for the first time at James Hyman Gallery.

Giorgio Sommer, a commercially-minded young man, he moved from his native Germany to Naples in 1857, and opened a photography studio.

Sommer's practice was not limited to a single subject matter - his catalogue of photographs ranged from souvenir images of the Vatican and other holy sites, to street scenes of various Italian cities, to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1872. The small scale prints, stereo views, and cartes de visite proved very popular among tourists to these locations, and Sommer operated four studios in Naples, as well as working for a time with Edmund Behles, who had a studio based in Rome. In addition to taking thousands of images himself, Sommer also oversaw the production of his prints and albums, and customising photographs for specific publications.

Sommer died in Naples in 1914.