This is part one of a two-part photo identification problem that covers both military history and foreign family photos.
As you probably know from reading past columns, deciphering clues in a military image is a challenge. There were no standard uniforms in the 19th and early 20th century.
This gorgeous portrait shows a young man in a dress uniform. I know it’s a dress uniform because of the white gloves and shiny epaulets at the shoulders. Each metal piece of his uniform is freshly polished for this important portrait.
This full-body picture shows this man at attention with some simple props—a vase of flowers and a doily on a table.
Here, just the man’s head is visible in a picture postcard, framed with illustrated symbols of his native land. The photographer hand-colored the plume red and blue. The photo format gives a beginning time frame for the postcard—photo postcards first became available in 1900.
It’s an interesting card. Each symbol is there for a reason. Here’s part one of the breakdown:
- Underneath the oval portrait are the letters SPQR, which stand for the Latin motto of Rome, Sen?tus Populusque R?m?nus (“The Senate and the People of Rome”).
- Beneath the motto, the words Ricordo di Roma translate to “Souvenir of Rome.” You also can see the sons of Rome, Romulus and Remus, nursing from their wolf mother.
- At the bottom is the photographer’s name, G. Tibaldi, with the words fotografia artistica. Under his name is V. Fabio Massimo.83. I think the 83 refers to 1883, perhaps the year he opened his studio, but I’m not familiar with this term. Anyone seen this before?
- Along the bottom edge are the words fotografo dei RR.CC and Vietata la Riproduzione. The latter is essentially a copyright statement.
- Four vignettes around the oval depict famous Roman battles and scenes.
This identification is a work in progress. I’ll fill you in on more details next time.