Luigi Primoli

From MAPH09_2
Jump to: navigation, search


Luigi Primoli (b Rome, 2 May 1851; d Rome, 13 June 1927) was an Italian photographer. Born into a family connected to the Bonaparte dynasty, he lived in Paris until the fall of Napoleon III in 1870 and then moved to Rome, where he and his brother Luigi Primoli (d 1925) developed such an interest in snapshot photography that they quickly became known as the most prolific photographers in Italy. Exploiting the freedom granted by the new hand-held cameras, the two brothers—whose works were not signed individually—were active from 1880 to c. 1905 and left over 12,500 images. These are not only society portraits and photographs of public events, royal weddings and costume balls, but also exhaustive records of the extremely poor life of immigrants to the new Italian capital, taken, on the whole, in an unposed, reportorial style. Primoli was a central figure in social life in Rome, and his work was often discussed by Gabriele D’Annunzio, who also claimed that Primoli was the first person to introduce photography to the fashionable circles of the capital. Equally popular in Paris, Primoli took numerous portraits of artists and intellectuals, including Théophile Gautier, Alexandre Dumas, and Guy de Maupassant . He was also a keen traveller and kept photographic records of his frequent trips to Venice, Milan and Naples, as well as Switzerland, Spain and Greece. He exhibited widely and was often awarded prizes, becoming well known in Italy as ‘the king of snapshots’. (source: [1])

Primary sources

An archive of the work of Luigi Primoli is housed at the Fondazione Primoli, Rome.


Secondary sources

L. Vitali, Un Fotografo Fin de Siècle il Conte Primoli, Torino, Einaudi, 1981.



Nizza. Eleonora Duse alla finestra con in mano un grappolo d'uva.jpg

Primoli, Nizza. Eleonora_Duse_alla_finestra_con_in_mano_un_grappolo_d'uva, 1897.

Primoli-DegasinParis.jpg Degas in Paris

Primoli Roma.Nella navicella Godard con il braccio alzato, mentre dà un ordine.jpg

Primoli Roma.Nella navicella Godard

con il braccio alzato, mentre dà un ordine

Back to Week 1. History of Photography

Back to History of Photography Contents

Back to the MA Photographic History Main Page