'Rome, The Northern Portico...', 1841.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A daguerreotype of the Pantheon, Rome, by Alexander John Ellis. The Pantheon is the most complete piece of Roman architecture left in the world. Built as a temple in about 126 AD, it was later consecrated as a Catholic church. The obelisk visible on the left was originaly erected in Heliopolis, Egypt, by the pharaoh Rameses II (1304-1237 BC). In 1711, Pope Clemens XI made it the centerpiece of an already existing fountain in the Piazza della Rotonda in front of the Pantheon. The full title of the daguerreotype is 'Rome, The Northern Portico, added by Agrippa to the Pantheon, with the obelisque.' 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.