Roma Eternal City

Founded in London in 1834, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) began assembling a collection of architectural photographs that is today one of the largest in the world. Result of an in-depth and careful selection from the many thousands of images the Institute holds, Rome. Eternal City offers a unique and thorough photographic survey about the city, from its archaeological details to its landscapes.

A collection of stunning photographs

Roma Eternal, in the Photograph Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects
© Skira 2019
Edwin Smith - Fragments of the colossal statue of Constantine the Great, Palazzo dei Conservatori, 1954, RIBA Collections
Monica Pidgeon - St Peter’s Square, 1961, RIBA Collections
Ralph Deakin - Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, or "Vittoriano", 1930s, RIBA Collections

This fully illustrated book offers a rare testimony on the visions of generations of British scholars and experts that visited and were inspired by the fascinating Italian capital and its history. Alongside the book’s illustrations comes a gathering of these scholars and experts, whom tackle a difficult, interdisciplinary subject, all the time moving back and forth between architecture, photography and the visual arts. Whilst Marco Iuliano gives an overview of the project and introduces architectural photography in Rome, and while Gabriella Musto reflects on the contemporary role of the historical perception of the Vittoriano, Richard Pare gives a brilliant analysis of the origins of photography in Rome. Furthermore, Owen Hopkins and François Penz respectively consider the impact of the city on the imagination of British architects and filmmakers whilst Valeria Carullo explores the richness of the RIBA photographs collection prior to the catalogue section.


Edwin Smith - Roman Forum, with the Arch of Septimus Severus in the foreground,1970, RIBA Collections
George Everard Kidder Smith - Dome of St Peter’s Basilica, 1954, Architectural Press Archive, RIBA Collections
Monica Pidgeon - Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna,1961, RIBA Collections
Tim Benton - Palazzo della Civiltá Italiana, EUR, 1976, RIBA Collections
Ralph Deakin - View from the Janiculum, 1930s, RIBA Collections

Roman antiquities may be one of the most popular subjects of all time. In drawings from life and reproductions, they are models to be studied even when contemporary images and icons tend to be produced elsewhere, in New York, London, Beijing or Dubai. In such a shift of those places that iconise reality, photographs of the ancient remains of Rome — such as those of Pompeii or Leptis Magna — are intrinsically part of our contemporary images, part of the contemporary world. They certify our lifestyle, the quality of the places we frequent and in which life is lived. They are the representation of various emotions of the beautiful, sometimes of the sublime, and have been since ancient times. And this is probably why, among the genres whereby photography most often returns to the previous iconographic tradition, Roman antiquity is one of the most stable, from the choice of viewpoints to the inevitable sets of images, which have formed collections of photographs since the second half of the nineteenth century. An example is provided by James Anderson, who moved from England to Rome in the late 1830s. Having started out as a painter of watercolours, he opened one of the leading photographic studios in the city, which became his permanent home. It is therefore not only artistic photographs but also collections, like those of Anderson, Alinari, Brogi and Sommer, that created the shared idea, the common way of seeing Rome, the expectations of those setting out on their journey and the memories of those returning home. A history of architecture in images, with prints and photographs as the points of reference, visual documents of the present day, the evolution of the archaeological heritage, and the cultural approach to the subject of antiquity.
Avril 2019
By Luxe Magazine