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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Domenico Riccardo Peretti-Griva

Dates:  1882 - 1962

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Domenico Riccardo Peretti-Griva
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Domenico Riccardo Peretti-Griva lived his whole life in Coassolo Torinese, Italy, a small community outside of Turin. He served there as a magistrate, wrote law books, and was designated the honorary president of the supreme court of appeals.
He was a major proponent of Italian pictorial photography, producing, exhibiting, and publishing his work. Photographic salons around the world accepted his pictures for three decades, from the mid-1920s to the mid-1950s. Among the American cities where he was successful were Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, Princeton, Rochester, San Antonio, San Diego, and San Francisco. Salons elsewhere included Antwerp, Barcelona, Bombay, Budapest, Madrid, Montreal, Ottawa, Prague, Toronto, and Turin. In 1936-37, he exhibited 104 prints in thirty-four salons, his most prolific season.
Peretti-Griva’s images appeared in photographic annuals and a few large monographic books. The 1937 issue of the Foto Annuario Italiano (published by Turin’s Italian Photographic Association), for instance, included one of his landscapes among the nearly one hundred pictures, as well as an introduction by him. In this country, the American Annual of Photography reproduced his work eight times between 1931 and 1940, presenting a variety of urban and rural subjects.
Among the most poetic of these was La Gabbietta, which appeared in 1935 and shows the side of a house, framed frontally and close-up. Frank R. Fraprie, the annual’s editor, praised the picture, observing that Peretti-Griva’s "theme is the play of light and shade upon a wall, the harmonious division of space by the lines of brick wall, tree and shutter, and the placing of an object at a point of maximum interest. It is a careful solution of a problem of composition, mingled with the sensuous beauty of light and an infusion of human sentiment."
The institute owns the very print of La Gabbietta that was used for the American Annual of Photography, according to a label on its back. Confirming this is the fact that the print came from the collection of Arthur Hammond, who was the associate editor of the monthly magazine associated with the annual and a professional colleague of Fraprie’s. Also on it back are stickers for places that the print was exhibited: the 1933 Antwerp salon, Princeton Camera Club, Utica (New York) Camera Club, and the Camera Associate of Huntington (West Virginia). The print is a bromoil transfer print, a manipulative process that, in this case, yielded a particularly granular and pointillistic effect.
In 1949, Peretti-Griva was given great exposure in two oversize books of his impressionistic images of Rome. Cento Impressioni Romane is a beautifully produced art book with the hand-written titles and the photographer’s signature reproduced in each plate. Rome: Noventa Vedute Moderne, however, noticeably ups the ante, beginning with its heft and larger size of 17 x 12 1/2 inches. It begins with a sixty-page text on the history of Rome, illustrated with images by Giambattista Piranesi and others, and culminates in ninety of Peretti-Griva’s sensitive pictures of the city. The images are printed in high-quality screen gravure, in different monochrome colors and appear one per two-page spread, with protective tissue guards. While they all depict specific parks, plazas, buildings, and monuments (once again identified in the plate), they, in fact, represent the photographer’s personal interpretations of the sites. In them, Peretti-Griva consistently exhibits an acute sense of light and shade and a very painterly outlook. This second book is a true tour-de-force of publishing in pictorial photography, matched in the period only by Adolf Fassbender’s Pictorial Artistry: The Dramatization of the Beautiful. 
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 1 June 2013. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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