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[Fox Hunting in the Roman Countryside]
Gelatin silver print
5.2 x 13.5 cm (2 1/16 x 5 5/16 in.)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Mrs. Walter Annenberg and The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 2005
Not on view
Count Giuseppe Primoli was born in Italy, though he spent his youth in Paris. After the fall of the Second Empire, he divided his time between Rome and Paris, leading the fashionable life of an aristocrat and maintaining long friendships with such literary personalities as Théophile Gauthier, Alexandre Dumas fils, Guy de Maupassant, and Gabriele d'Annunzio. An amateur photographer from an early age, Primoli entertained the idea of becoming a writer but soon gave in to his mania for photography; he left over fifteen thousand images, most of which are now at the Primoli Foundation in Rome. Primoli was among the first amateurs to devote himself almost exclusively to the instantaneous images that the new hand-held camera made possible in the late 1880s. Seldom venturing anywhere without his lens, he developed a sure eye for the uncommon angle, the amusing juxtaposition, the incongruous detail. A man of wide culture and interests who had access by birthright to the most exclusive social circles, Primoli was in a unique position to compile an original, often irreverent chronicle of his time. Announcing modern reportage, his work foreshadows that of Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Erich Salomon. In his portrayals of the pastimes of the aristocratic families of Rome--their balls, charity events, horse races, and fox hunts--Primoli displays a detachment tinged with irony. This view of a hunt in the countryside holds our attention by the barren beauty of the vast, grassy landscape, rendered with the delicacy of a miniature and which the elegant silhouettes of the hunters punctuate with the crisp precision of notes on a sheet of music.
Piero Becchetti, Jan. 18, 1990; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York
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