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The Burning of Rome Seeley, George  (American, 1880-1955)

For this 1906 picture entitled The Burning of Rome, George H. Seeley posed his sisters on a hillside near the family home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, a setting that could not have been farther from the Rome of Emperor Nero. Seeley, a student of Greek and Roman history, cajoled his mother into sewing costumes that he used in tableaux, such as this one, to which he gave evocative titles. Even without reference to the title the girls look genuinely menaced. Like Alvin Langdon Coburn, Seeley focused attention on the play of light, adding an eye catching visual element that competes with the literary allusion. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin Spring 1978

From l906 to 1910 Seeley was an active, if somewhat isolated, Fellow of the Photo-Secession—the admired newcomer of the group—who lived with his family in the Berkshires and sent soft-focused photographs of willowy maidens in white to Stieglitz for exhibition and for reproduction in Camera Work. A student of Greek and Roman history, Seeley cajoled his mother into sewing vaguely classical costumes for his tableaux, posed friends and family (his sisters Lillian and Laura in this case), and christened his compositions with titles evocative of literary and historical themes. (Met website)

Reproduced / Exhibited

Kruse, Margret. Kunstphotographie Um 1900: D. Sammlung Ernst Juhl; Hamburg: Museum für Kunst u. Gewerbe, 1989 pl. 851

Intimations & Imaginings: The Photographs of George H. Seeley, The Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 1986 pl. II. p. 12