'Paestum, Eastern Facade of the Great Temple...', 1841.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A daguerreotype of the the so-called Basilica at Paestum, Italy, by Alexander John Ellis. Paestum was a Greek colony founded in Southern Italy during the sixth century BC. The ruins feature temples to Poseidon, Ceres and the Basilica - actually a temple to Hera - all built between 530 and 460 BC. The ruins were rediscovered in the 1750s, chiefly by Johann Joachim Winckelmann. The ruins, together with those at Herculaneum and Pompeii, sparked an interest in Classical art and architecture during the eightenth century. The full title of the daguerreotype is 'Paestum, Eastern Facade of the Great Temple, called also the Temple of Neptune.' 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 th