Shoeshine and Pickpocket

Giorgio Sommer Italian, born Germany

Not on view

Giorgio Sommer apprenticed as a photographer in his native Frankfurt am Main before relocating to Italy in 1857. Initially partnering with another German, Edmond Behles (1841-1921), Sommer opened studios simultaneously in Rome and Naples, which allowed him to distribute his photographs more widely, profiting from the steady stream of tourists that flocked to those cities. Sommer’s catalogue of negatives eventually reached nineteen thousand images drawn from the art, landscapes, views, and people of the Italian peninsula. Among his most popular subjects were staged genre scenes, like this one, depicting iconic Italian street types. Although these compositions reveal foreign expectations of and prejudices toward Naples and its citizens, they are often tinged with humor and pathos, a result of Sommer’s artistry.

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