Lot 130
  • 130


40,000 - 60,000 USD
137,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • 'Le Rose'
signed and annotated 'Roma' in ink on the image, titled and annotated 'fotodinamica futurista di Arturo Bragaglia' in pencil and stamped 'Foto Ritratti D'Arte, Piazza Spagna 51' on the reverse, framed, 1913


Collection of Giovanni Lista

Sotheby’s New York, Italian Futurist Photographs, 9 November 1982, Sale 4956, Lot 11

By descent to the present owner


Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Photographie Futuriste Italienne 1911-1939, October 1981 - January 1982


Anton Giulio Bragaglia, Fotodinamismo futurista (Turin, 1970), pl. 18

Giovanni Lista, Photographie Futuriste Italienne, 1911-1939 (Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1982), no. 26 (this print)

Antoni Pizza, Ciudades del futurismo italiano. Vida y arte moderno: Milán, París, Berlín, Roma (1909-1915) (Barcelona, 2014), fig. 17 (this print)

Irene Chytraeus-Auerbach and Georg Maag, Futurismus: Kunst, Technik, Geschwindigkeit und Innovation zu Beginn des 20, Jahrhunderts, 2017, p. 112

Catalogue Note

In 1911, Anton Giulio Bragaglia wrote the first of three editions of Fotodinamismo futurista (Futurist photodynamism), widely considered to be the first avant-garde photographic manifesto of the 20th century.  It sparked a heated debate between artists of all media associated with Futurism and caused a massive rift between Bragaglia and painter Umberto Boccioni, leading to Bragaglia’s exclusion from the group in 1913.  Together with his brother Arturo, and inspired by Étienne-Jules Marey’s achievements in 1882 with chronophotography, the Bragaglias set out to show realistic movement – with an emphasis on aesthetics – in a single negative frame.  While Marey captured sequential, isolated images of movement, the Bragaglia brothers instead sought to combine a multitude of movements into one frame.  During the early 1910s, they photographed models executing straightforward movements, starting with the sitter holding one fixed position then moving to a second.  As the camera’s shutter remained open during the simple, smooth movement, ghostly, at times electric, white swaths were captured.  This ‘evidence’ fulfilled their goal of making the invisible visible. There are only a handful of Bragaglia images from the 1910s that feature women, including ‘The Rose’ and ‘The Typist’ (1911), now in the Gilman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2005.100.244).  The photograph offered here, also captioned in the 1970 edition of Fotodinamismo futurista as ‘L’Attrice Fotodinamizzata (Zarina de Sylvain della compagnia Talli, che odora una rosa)’ or ‘The Photodynamic Actress (Zarina de Sylvain of the Talli Company, smelling a rose)’ of 1913.  Film scholar Angela Dalle Vacche emphasizes the importance of this image as a subtle but important reference to the popular cultural phenomenon of the ‘Diva Film,’ which flourished in Italy between 1910 and 1920 in her book Diva: Defiance and Passion in Early Italian Cinema.  The Diva Film mirrored the evolving Italian culture of the first decades of the 20th century, promoting female independence through storylines depicting divorce, gambling, smoking, practicing sports, and even child custody disputes.   The actress in Bragaglia’s photograph is Zarina de Sylvain, shown in the action of smelling a rose.  Roses were a common cliché in the Diva Film, whether depicted fragrant and blossoming with life or withering away in a heavy-handed memento mori about the passage of time.   

Shortly after this photograph was made, Anton Bragaglia shifted from photography to film.   In 1918, he opened a gallery called Casa d’arte Bragaglia in Rome, where he showed the work of many artists, including his brother Arturo who in the early 1920’s renewed research in photodynamics.  Although the Bragaglias made photodynamic images into the 1930s, their early photographs from the 1910s are exceptionally rare and seldom appear on the market.