'Rome, Small or northern facade of the church of San Giovanni in Laterano', 1841.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A daguerreotype by Alexander John Ellis. The church of St John Lateran was the first cathedral church of Rome. Much rebuilt, the original building dates back to the early fourth century. The church and nearby Lateran Palace were home to the Popes before Clement V moved the Papacy to Avignon in France. The Vatican became the official residency on the return of the Papacy in 1377. The obelisk standing in front of the church was placed there in 1588. Originally from the Temple of the Sun at Heliopolis, Egypt, it was brought to Rome and placed in the Circus Maximus. 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.