James Anderson Temple of Vesta, Rome
Medium Salt print from an albumen glass plate negative
Mount on original mount
Photo Date 1852c Print Date 1852c
Dimensions 10-3/4 x 14-1/2 in. (273 x 368 mm)
Photo Country Italy
Photographer Country United Kingdom (UK)
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
Very rare and early large plate photographs from Anderson. Title written in period ink and Spithover blind stamp on recto of mount. The Temple of Vesta is an ancient edifice in Rome, Italy, located in the Roman Forum between the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Temple of Caesar, the Regia and the House of the Vestal Virgins. The temple's most recognizable feature is its circular footprint which is most likely a remnant of an ancient Latin or Etruscan shrine. It is the oldest marble edifice to have survived in Rome. Although long known as the Temple of Vesta, it was in fact dedicated to Hercules Victor. This was the ancestral hearth of the Roman Nation, the place where the objects that Aeneas had bought from Troy were kept, and the temple that was guarded by the Vestal Virgins, the only female priesthood in Rome.
James Anderson was born at Blencarn, Cumberland, U.K., on March 11, 1813 with the name Isaac Atkinson.
He studied painting in Paris where he lived until 1837, specializing in watercolor views. In January 1838 he moved to Rome and with the pseudonym of William Nuget Dunbar he participated in annual exhibitions of the Society Amatory and the Belle's Arti students. There he changed his name to James Anderson. He married a Roman girl, Maria de Mutis, and they had four children together.
The 1845 register of the Caffé Greco has his signature and an address at Fuori Porta del Popolo N. 6, profession photographer. In the same register there is also the signature of the photographer Giacomo Caneva.
In the mid-1840s he became a professional calotype photographer. Later he used albumen on glass negatives, but he generally preferred wet collodion. James Anderson was almost certainly a frequenter of the Photographic Circle of the Caffé Greco and some of his images show the same interpretation of other members of the group. During his first photographic period, when he used calotypes, Anderson doesn't seem to have ever signed his works and his blind-stamp only started to appear around 1855. The attribution to James Anderson of his early work is given by the blind-stamp of Jos. Spithover who sold his prints or by the negative numbers that sometime appear on the photograph.
In November 1855 James Anderson photographed the moon through the great telescope of Merz near the observatory of the College Romano.
A number of his commercial catalogues detailing his work survive. The first currently known was published in 1857. His views are generally well executed and very well printed. His works were on sale from the bookseller Joseph Spithover, who manufactured albums of photographs selected by the customer. For many years Anderson was in direct competition with Robert MacPherson, who was also resident in Rome.
James Anderson participated in a number of international exhibitions, including the Universal Exhibition in Paris (1855), the exhibition of the Scottish Society of the Photo (1857) and the Universal Exhibition in London (1862).
Around 1870 he began to work with his young son Domenico (1854-1938) and together they learned to compete with the growing number of professional photographers in Rome.
James Anderson died February 27, 1877, and Domenico continued the studio and his father's work with notable success.
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