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Basilica of Constantine, formerly called the Temple of Peace, in the Forum

Robert MacPherson—who opened a studio in Rome in 1858—was one of a growing number of commercial photographers to capitalize on the burgeoning tourist trade in Europe and on the advancements in photographic technology. Specializing in classical archeological sites, he used large glass plate negatives to capture their “moldering grandeur.” Like his clients, MacPherson looked toward older precedents—such as Piranesi’s prints—to determine which monuments were a “must see.” While he chose similar views and mimicked their picturesque conventions, his photographs are less exaggerated, generally devoid of figures, and contain more documentary details. Indiana Univeristy Art Museum’s collection includes another view of the Roman Forum by MacPherson (Eskenazi Museum of Art 82.9.3).

Robert MacPherson
Scottish, ca. 1815–1872
Basilica of Constantine, formerly called the Temple of Peace, in the Forum
ca. 1858
Albumen print
Image/sheet: 10 ¼ x 16 ¾ in. (26.0 x 42.5 cm); mount: 19 ¼ x 25 13/16 in. (48.9 x 64.0 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 80.96.1