A superb photograph by von Gloeden, the first and generally acknowledged as the best of the Arcadian photographers working in and around Italy from the 1880s through to the Great War. A young man’s likeness captured forever, in striking close-up detail, effortless grace in his poised posture, and though it is but a small (and not often provocative) part of a beautiful whole, I am especially impressed by his perfect shoulders.
There are three possible reasons for this unusual image - either this gentleman was a strongman depicting one of his famed feats, breaking iron bonds with nothing but musclepower (and, presumably, a rigged link of soft metal which would part and bend easily), or he could have been an escapologist about to wriggle free using skill rather than brute strength. Lastly, he could merely be modelling for an artist’s reference photograph, somebody who wished to paint a character captured and chained.
Unfortunately I’ve been unable to discover which is the true explaination, but wished to include him regardless of the unknown origin.
Regrettably small in size but entirely agreeable in both subject and composition, this stylish photograph was taken by Guglielmo Plüschow around the turn of the century. A strapping young man in the prime of life, the deep shadows from a high summer sun only emphasising the impressive definition all down his muscular torso, and those long luscious legs! Somehow his pose imparts a certain pride in his appearance, a satisfaction in flaunting his body before the camera - this is no subtle shot with classical allusions to excuse the nudity, and yet it remains tasteful all the same.
A Gem indeed; often the card frames and mounts for vintage photographs are discarded, of no value compared to their more enduring glass-fronted counterparts which may be emptied and sold on, but seeing such a photograph still in situ after all these years is always pleasing. Someone kept this, held it in their hand - one of the men in the picture, perhaps, or another who cared about them both.
While their most famous photographs are undoubtedly that utterly enthralling, adorable set in which they appear together, both Vincenzo and Edoardo were favoured models who also posed for Plüschow on other occasions. Here it is the beautifully sun-bronzed Edoardo who displays his fine physique amid the ruins of antiquity, and I like the gentle, considerate addition of some soft padding to save his knees from the abrasive stone.
Male nude study.
Another shot of the same strongly-built gentleman we have seen previously, proudly exhibiting his magnificently muscular body in a second pose.
A male model poses in the studio of Jean-Louis Marie Eugène Durieu (1800-1874, usually known by just the final of his many forenames). Seated on a threadbare and fraying tasselled cushion of sorts, at first glance I thought he was perched upon a slice from a tree trunk, complete with peeling bark!
My gratitude to generous reader Julia, who has sent in a far, far clearer copy of a photograph I have featured before, the wonderful Oscar Wilde with Lord Alfred Douglas - I’m happy to include it again as the improvement is so marked, a scan so sharp we can even see the laces in their boots.
With the picture came this observation, pointing out something I had never noticed before, and you may find interesting :
"I’m intrigued by the bangle Bosie wears on his left wrist, which is also evident in other pictures from the same session, as I’ve never seen any other photos of a man from this era wearing such an item of jewellery."
Just minutes after I shared this, a dear knowledgeable reader has pointed me towards their own post on the matter of the bangle, which turns out to have a truly touching significance : read it here
A superb submission from a kind reader who sent me a message this week, sharing not only the gorgeous photograph above, but also a much-appreciated piece of information to add to a previous post featuring one of the same models : the beautiful young man is named Pasqualino, and he sat regularly for Wilhelm von Gloeden, for over a decade.
His companion here is Francesco, the pair standing decorously draped and elegant in the old St. Domenico former convent of Taormina. Is it not a joy to know both their names, such a small snippet of information and yet it makes such a difference!
Thank you, sir, for a wonderful addition to the collection here.
A quite simply sublime photograph by Vincenzo Galdi - an exquisitely lovely young man sits deep in melancholy thought, wistful downcast eyes and that delightful Cupid’s bow of his lip, chin supported on graceful turn of wrist, crumpled fabric beneath his knee; and the bright brilliant Mediterranean sun drawing perfect sharp shadows on his grave, gorgeous face, his bare skin. Beautiful!
A rather charming little cabinet card featuring a double portrait of two affectionate chaps from Worcester, Massachusetts - the posessive, protective arm around shoulders suggests they are perhaps father and son, though the lack of modern clarity on the faces makes discerning ages difficult indeed.
Russian handsome wrestler.
Once again I must turn to my followers and beg a translation of the rather prettily written caption on this one - you have proved to be a most knowledgeable and helpful assistance on all previous occasions when I have been left bewildered by some wording I could not read!
[edited, to add -]
My thanks to ruber-sanguis for providing the requested information. The details are the name of the wrestler Турбас/Turbas (full name: Nikolai Turbas; real name: Nikita Tulumbusov), a rather famous circus wrestler at that time in Russia. ‘Собств Д. И. Быстрова, спб 1913 г’ - property of D. I. Bistrov, Saint Petersburg, 1913 year.
A more typical photograph from von Gloeden, capturing the natural easy elegance and bold self-assurance of the local models who posed for him, in Taormina and the surrounding countryside. Oh, such deep soulful eyes, and that confident unwavering gaze into the camera as he stands relaxed and utterly uninhibited - a young man well-chosen for this task.
The few solo portraits posted thus far have proved exceedingly popular, let us enjoy some more! A distinguished model poses here for Wilhelm von Gloeden, a man of singularly striking good looks, unblemished in the blossoming of his maturity - an air of nobility lent by the adornment of leaves as he looks down to us, stern and yet serene.