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Album fotografico della Persia, 1860

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Album fotografico della Persia

Biographical/Historical Note

Luigi Pesce (1827-1864) a Neapolitan lieutenant colonel and amateur photographer, was employed by Nasir al-Din Shah, beginning in 1848, to modernize the Persian army, and eventually became commander-in-chief of its infantry. Pesce took the earliest documented photographs of Persepolis (and some of the earliest photographs of Tehran), for which he was awarded an Honorable Mention at the 1862 International Exhibition in London.

Photography was introduced into Persia (modern Iran) in 1844 by the Frenchman Jules Richard, whom the Shah had charged with the task of recording the ancient Achaemenid site of Persepolis. When Richard failed to carry out the task, Pesce took the initiative, and, as he recorded in the album that he presented to the Shah in 1858 (now in the Golestan Palace collection, Tehran), "There has yet been no one from the West who has captured the images of the ruins by photography. Therefore, it is for the first time that your servant took photographs of the reliefs and ruined edifices of Takht-e-Jamshid and presented them to His Majesty."

Luigi Pesce also presented an album of his photographs to Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson (1810-1895) at the conclusion of Rawlinson's brief tenure as British ambassador to the Qajar court (1859-1860). Rawlinson was a British East India Company army officer, diplomat, Orientalist, and philologist who has been called the "father of Assyriology." He was posted first in India and then to the Persian court, beginning in 1835. There he transcribed and translated the trilingual cuneiform texts that Darius the Great caused to be inscribed on the rock of Behistun at Tāq-e Bostān. Rawlinson's "Memoir on the Babylonian and Assyrian Inscriptions," published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, volume 14 (1851), which comprises a copy of the Babylonian inscriptions at Behistun in the original characters along with an interlined transliteration and a Latin translation, is considered to be his most significant contribution to the field of Assyriology.

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