'Rome, the East side of the Triumphal Arch of Septimus Severus...', 1841
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A daguerreotype of the triumphal arch of the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus [145 - 211] in Rome, by Alexander John Ellis. The figure standing by the central archway gives an idea of scale. At this date the base of the arch was still buried beneath rubble and dirt. One of only three surviving triumphal arches in Rome it stands in the Forum below the Capitoline hill. The arch was built in 203 AD to celebrate the Emperor Severus' campaigns against the Parthians. The full title of the daguerreotype is 'Rome, the East side of the Triumphal Arch of Septimus Severus to the left of the Temple of Jupiter.' 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.