Art Photography: Rome by Robert Macpherson

The Monuments of Rome by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872)

The Scottish painter Robert Macpherson was born in Dalkeith and settled in Rome, partly for health reasons, in the 1830s. From 1851 he began to use the new medium of photography to record Rome's treasures and antquities. Macpherson saw his photographs as an extension of his work as an artist-photographer. In 1863 he said: "I  remain a photographer to this day, without any feeling that by doing so I have abandoned art, or have in any way forfeited my claim to the title of artist."

By the 1860s his reputation was high with exhibitions of his work in Edinburgh and London. His images drew on his experience as a painter, choosing advantageous viewpoints to convey the aesthetic strength and complexity of the architecture on which he based his work. His wife, Louisa Gerardine, played an important role in both supporting the practical work of Macpherson's photography and in promoting his work to visiting tourists and the resident British community.

His work received critical acclaim with the Atheneum journal declaring in 1862 that they were "subjects chosen with fine taste and the pictures executed with skill and delicacy." He became the first photographer to be permitted within the Vatican and photographed many of the sculptural treasures there.

By the later 1860s his health was in decline due to malaria and the market for his images began to disappear as political instability reduced the tourist trade. Photography was also moving from the realm of the artist into that of a commodity.

He died in 1872 with his obituary in The Scotsman stating that he was "the father of photography in the Eternal City".

See thousands of images and records from the collections of the McLean Museum and Inverclyde Archives on our Collections Online website. Use the link on the left of the page to take you there.

 

The Colosseum, Rome By Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 23.2 x 42.8 cm - 2017.93 -  © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock The Piazza and Basilica of St. Peter, Rome, Italy by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen Print on paper - 23 x 40.4 cm - 2017.96 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock The Tomb of Cecilia Metella by Robert Turnbull Macpherson - Albumen print on paper - 28.2 x 39.9 cm   - 2017.98 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, Rome by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 31.3 x 41.8 cm - 2017.99 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock The Arch of Janus Quadrifrons by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 27.8 x 38 cm  - 2017.101 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Arch of Pantani and columns of the Forum of Nerva  by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 40.3 x 28.2 cm  - 2017.103 -
 © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock The Temple of Minerva by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 38 x 30.6 cm  - 2017.104 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock The Quirinal Hill with the Obelisk and Horses, Rome by Robert Turnbull  Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 27.3 x 33.5 cm  - 2017.106 -
 © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Temple of Vesta (The Temple of Hercules Victor), Rome by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 28.3 x 41 cm  - 2017.107 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock The Piazza del Popolo in Rome and Its Augustan Obelisk by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 37 x 29.5 cm - 2017.108 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Trajan's Forum and Column, Rome by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 40.4 x 31 cm  2017.109 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock The Forum, Rome by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 30.7 x 41.1 cm - 2017.110 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock The Arch of Titus and the Temple of Venus, Rome, Italy by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 23.8 x 42 cm - 2017.111 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Temple of Vespasian, Arch of Septimus Severus and the Roman Forum by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 40.6 x 30.4 cm - 2017.112 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Side view of the Temple dedicated to Antoninus and Faustina, Roman Forum - Albumen print on paper - 35 x 27.3 cm  - 2017.113 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock The Church of St. John Lateran, Rome by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 38.2 x 31.3 cm - 2017.114 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock The Arch of Titus from the Temple of Venus, Rome by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 25.3 x 41.7 cm - 2017.115 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Four Rivers Fountain), Rome by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 36 x 27.8 cm - 2017.116 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Tivoli, the Temple of Vesta by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 40.4 x 29.2 cm - 2017.117 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock View of the Tiber with Castel Sant'Angelo and St. Peter's Basilica by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 20.2 x 42.2 cm - 2017.118 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock The Theatre of Marcellus, from the Piazza Montanara by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 40.9 x 27.6 cm - 2017.119 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Remains of the Porticus Octaviae, Rome, Italy by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 40 x 31 cm  - 2017.121 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Temple of Deified Hadrian (Hadrianeum), Campus Martius, Rome by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 31 x 42.7 cm - 2017.122 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Campidoglio from the Piazza Aracoeli, Rome by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 26.7 x 40 cm - 2017.123 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Palace of the Caesars on the Palatine by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 30.9 x 39.3 cm  - 2017.124 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Trevi Fountain, Rome by Rome Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 40.2 x 30.9 cm -2017.127 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock by Robert Turnbull Macpherson  (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 28 x 38.2 cm  - 2017.128 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock Creugas of Durres by Robert Turnbull Macpherson (1814-1872) - Albumen print on paper - 37.2 x 21.6 cm - 2017.130 - © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock