The project examines the formation of visualisations of Rome and its monumentality throughout the 19th century in terms of their systematic, genre-specific and media-historical development. There are various questions Sylva van der Heyden attempts to answer in her dissertation: What are the different forms of visualisation that gave an impression of Rome and its greatness? How were these visualisations noticed and used? Does the observer need to experience the whole city – as in painted panoramas and city models – or do selected monuments and views create the monumentality of Rome as well?


Visitors to Rome throughout the expiring 18th and beginning 19th century are stating the impossibility in describing the ancient and modern metropolis in various ways. This confession is a well-known topos to contemporary readers of letters, articles, travel reports and fiction portraying Rome. Pictures and prints that travellers purchased in Rome could help to overcome the speechlessness but addressed only a small circle of privileged observers. Cork models of the Roman monuments that were carved during the second half of the 18th century exclusively in Rome were taken to mid- and north-European collections. They opened up a third dimension of depth and allowed examining the ancient monuments in an absolutely unique way; nonetheless the cork models still referred only to a close circle of scholars and experts.

Media, that gave everyone who was interested and not only some selected connoisseurs the chance to learn about Rome and its material – the city, the vicinity, the monuments – and immaterial grandeur – like the history – are blooming since the end of the 18th century. Alongside predominantly two-dimensional media, like prints and (city and terrain) maps, the development of painted panoramic views that were designed for the first time in 1787 combined several immersive effects on the viewer and gave them the possibility to experience Rome abroad. In the mid-19th century stereoscopic photography transformed the experience of Rome influenced by mass media into a private solo entertainment in the viewers study. And at the end of the 19th century illustrated books consisting of photography were published who state to depict the whole experience of ancient Rome and its grandeur through selected views.

This Ph.D. thesis is being written within the program “Material Cultures and Object Studies” (MaCOS) of the Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies (BerGSAS).