'Pompeii, The Forum from the South East Angle...', 1841.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A daguerreotype of the ruined forum at Pompeii, Italy, by Alexander John Ellis. Ellis made eight daguerreotypes in Pompeii between April 21 and May 12, 1841, also taking daguerreotypes in nearby Paestum at the same time. Pompeii, a prosperous Roman city on the Bay of Naples, was destroyed by an eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Preserved beneath volcanic ash the city was rediscovered in 1748, its excavation sparking the late eighteenth century interest in Classical design. Ellis toured Italy in 1841, taking daguerreotype panoramas, landscapes and architectural views. In Rome, he worked with Achille Morelli and Lorenzo Suscipi, acquiring 45 daguerreotypes from them. In total, Ellis took or acquired 159 daguerreotypes. He intended to publish engravings made from these as a book entitled 'Italy Daguerreotyped', but sadly the project was never realised.