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Giacomo Caneva (Italian, 1813-1865) was the inspiration behind, and a founder of, the Caffè Greco School of painting and photography in Rome, where its members gathered at the base of the Spanish steps. Along with some of his contemporaries, Caneva’s adoption of the new medium of photography in the 1840s succeeded his early training as a painter. He embraced the paper negative process. In addition to his skillful, romantic landscapes and architectural views, he is best known for his genre scenes of peasant life in 19th century Rome. By 1856 he was exhibiting photographs of animals in the Roman Forum printed from collodion glass negatives. Caneva’s photographs were avidly collected by painters and used as studies.

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