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Sala Delle Statue, Vatican

Sala delle Statue MET

Sala Delle Statue, Vatican

This photograph shows the  Gallery of Statues (Sala Delle Statue) at the Vatican, taken over 150 years ago. James Anderson (1813–1877) made this photograph in the 1850s using an albumen print from a glass negative. Today this view at the Gallery of Statues which is part of the Vatican Museum has not changed substantially, most of these statues from 150 years ago can be seen in modern photographs of this gallery. The Gallery of the Statues holds various important statues, including Sleeping Ariadne, the bust of Menander and The Chiaramonti Caesar.

Albumen Print

Albumen silver print was the first commercially available method of producing a photographic print on a paper base from a negative. In the 1850s, the process used the albumen found in egg whites to bind the photographic chemicals to the paper, and it became the dominant form for a photograph from 1855 to the start of the 20th century.

Glass Negative Photographic Plate

Photographic plates preceded photographic film as the medium for capturing images in photography. A light-sensitive emulsion was coated on a glass plate, instead of a clear plastic film. The earliest plastic films were not available for the amateur until the late 1880s. The new plastic was not of high optical quality and initially was more expensive to produce than glass. Quality and price of plastic films eventually improved and most amateurs increasingly abandoned glass plates for plastic films.

Museo Pio-Clementino

The Gallery of Statues is part of the Pio Clementino Museum, which takes its name from two popes, Clement XIV, who established the museum in 1771, and Pius VI, the pope who brought the museum to completion in 1776. Clement XIV came up with the idea of creating a new museum in Innocent VIII’s Belvedere Palace and started the refurbishment work.

The Pio-Clementino museum originally contained the Renaissance and antique works. The museum and collection were enlarged by Clement’s successor Pius VI. Today, the museum houses works of Greek and Roman sculpture.


  • This view has not changed in 150 years, but how has the art of photography changed?
  • Why has the Sala Delle Statue or Gallery of Statues not changed significantly since this photograph?
  • Have you seen a modern picture of the Sala Delle Statue?

Explore the Photographs Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

Sala Delle Statue, Vatican

  • Title:                Sala Delle Statue, Vatican
  • Date:                1850s –60s
  • Photographer: James Anderson (British, 1813–1877)
  • Medium:          Albumen silver print from glass negative
  • Dimensions:  Image: 39.7 x 53.8 cm (15 5/8 x 21 3/16 in.)
  • Museum:        Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

Explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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” Photography is a major force in explaining man to man.”
– Edward Steichen”


Photo Credit: 1) Metropolitan Museum of Art [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons