Wilhelm von Plüschow

Published March 26, 2011 by Tony

Mediterranean trait

Note, anybody who doesn’t like nude photographs and of young people mainly, ought to stop looking at this post.

Accidentally I hit on some picture of Wilhelm von Plüschow a German photographer (1852 – 1930) who stayed in Naples from the early 1890s. He became known for his nude photos of local youths, predominantly males (but also females) like his cousin Wilhelm von Gloeden (1856-1931) who spent many years in Taormina and became a famous photographer for the nude photos of Sicilian people, instead. He came to Naples more times to meet Plüschow and so, among his archive there are some portraits of Neapolitan people too. Anyway, they both also took many landscapes that helped popularize tourism to Italy and that today have their importance under a historical aspect, also if there are other photographers specialized in this genre that I intent to find and see their old landscapes about Naples and surroundings.

The images they produced are considered to be a landmark for the beginning of the homosexual photograph. Pluschow pictures are more erotic than the ones shot by Baron von Glœden who was more an aesthete and whose works suggested a setting in the Greece or Italy of antiquity. Timeless and enticing images in search of a sublime beauty in the Mediterranean world he felt allured.

Apart from nudity – that could nettle someone – I was interested to see the models feature because any population has its own physical characteristic and it is interesting to check as they change in the time.

In Italy – divided by different regions – there are different lineages and it is amazing to see as some of them still are clearly visible nowadays – as a stereotype characterizing a region or a country.

This post started deliberately by the word “accidentally” because this blog is dedicated to Neapolitan culture priory while one of the last post concerned a tour in Sicily and – strangely enough – I found something about Naples and Sicily at the same time and looking at the different portraits I often were able to set who was Sicilian and who Neapolitan. Undoubtedly Sicilians have very strong and unmistakable feature but we anyhow are considering two populations of the Mediterranean area in southern Italy that had many things in common. Among the numerous photos of Gloeden I chose the one took in Naples or those whose people feature had some ‘Parthenope’ distinctive trait.

A boy

A boy – Wilhelm von Plüschow, Boy as a saint portrait – no date – 19th-century.

Nino_Cesarini – Portrait of Nino Cesarini by Wilhelm von Plüschow.
Male nude

Male nude – Wilhelm von Plueschow, Male nude, Naples, 1890-1900 nearly. Catalogue: 36.117.

Vincenzo_Galdi – Wilhelm von Pluschow, Nude portrait of Vincenzo Galdi (1895 ca.), at Posillipo, Naples, ca. 1895.
Male nude

Male nude – Wilhelm von Plüschow, Male nude. Naples earlier than 1907.
Boy and girl

Boy and girl –Boy and girl at Posillipo (Naples). Photo by Wilhelm von Plüschow, dating from the 1890s, from the book Der Körper des Kindes und seine Pflege by Carl Heinrich Stratz.
A girl

A girl – 1909 (Publication) – 10-year old girl with mamma areolata. Photo by Wilhelm von Plüschow from the book Der Körper des Kindes und seine Pflege by Carl Heinrich Stratz.
Italian girl

Italian girl – 13-year old italian girl. Photo by Wilhelm von Plüschow from the book Der Körper des Kindes und seine Pflege by Carl Heinrich Stratz.
A boy

A boy – Picture by Wilhelm von Plueschow. Naples or Rome, before 1907.

Couple – Picture by Wilhelm von Plueschow. Two nudes.
On a terrace

On a terrace – Five youths on a terrace. Naples and Mount Vesuvius in the background were painted into the picture by von Gloeden (or an assistant). Kiermeier-Debre/Vogel: Wilhelm von Gloeden – auch ich in Arkadien (Cologne 2007), p. 111. Barandum cat. #151, reg. #45.
A boy

A boy – Wilhelm von Gloeden, “A boy“. Catalogue number: 52. Francesco Gallo, W. Von Gloeden. Fotografie originali, Comune di Taormina (Tipolitografia Pino,Catania) 1981, p. 23.
Two naked boys

Two naked boys – Wilhelm von Gloeden, Two naked boys, one with an amphora, the other one wearing a Passion-flower. Catalogue number: 79. Around 1895.

Ahmed – Wilhelm von Gloeden, “Ahmed“, Picture number 227 (1899) – Italo Mussa, (Malambrì, Taormina 1980, p. 39.
Italian boy

Italian boy – Wilhelm von Gloeden, “Italian boy posing as Bacchus“. Catalogue number: 299.Janssen, Volker (editor), Wilhelm von Gloeden, Wilhelm von Plüschow, Vincenzo Galdi. Italienische Jünglings-Photographien um 1900, Janssen Verlag, Berlin 1991.

Boys – Wilhelm von Gloeden, “Love and Art”, catalogue number: 0941. Gloeden, Wilhelm von, Amore e arte, Nino Malambrì, Taormina 1999, p. 70.
boys in Pompeii

Boys in Pompeii – Wilhelm von Gloeden, “Neapolitan boys in Pompeii“. Catalogue number: 1052. The photo was taken during a visit by Gloeden’s cousin, Wilhelm von Plueschow, in Naples, evidenced by the fact that the model on the right is Vincenzo Galdi, who was model to, as well as the lover of Plueschow. “deponiert 11-3-1899”, but earlier. Source: Giovanni Dall’Orto.
boy at Pompeii

Boy at Pompeii – Wilhelm von Gloeden, “Neapolitan boy at Pompeii“. Catalogue number: 1074. source: Online auction (ebay).
Love and Art

Love and Art – Wilhelm von Gloeden, Catalogue number: 1121. from “Love and Art” (Amore e arte), Nino Malambrì, Taormina 1999, p. 77.

Portrait – Wilhelm von Gloeden, Catalogue number: 1185. From Love and Art (Amore e arte), Nino Malambrì, Taormina 1999, p. 91.
Boy in the cloister

Boy in the cloister – Wilhelm von Gloeden, male nude in the former cloister of what today is Hotel San Domenico in Taormina, in Sicily, around 1899. source: Sicilia mitica Arcadia, p. 52.
Three nude boys

Three nude boys – Wilhelm von Gloeden, Three nude boys. The picture was shot on Gloeden’s cousin Wilhelm von Plueschow’s terrace in Posillipo (Naples) in the first stage of his work (1890-1900).

Pietro – Wilhelm von Gloeden, Picture number 434. From album “Pietro. Farewell to Naples“.Source – Janssen, Volker (editor), Wilhelm von Gloeden, Wilhelm von Plüschow, Vincenzo Galdi. Italienische Jünglings-Photographien um 1900, Janssen Verlag, Berlin 1991, p. 9.

Here’s now some images where we can see the strong and unmistakable trait of Sicilian guys.

Siclian boy
Siclian guy (note the distinctive Sicilian trait)
sicilian boys
Sicilian boys

At the end I want to add two pictures of Giorgio Sommer (1834-1914). Born in Germany, became one of Europe’s most important and prolific photographers of the 19th century. Active from 1857 to 1888, he produced thousands of images of archeological ruins, landscapes, art objects and portraits.

Spaghetti eaters

Spaghetti eaters – Giorgio Sommer, Spaghetti eaters, before 1886. Photograph, albumen print, 22.8 x 18.4 cm. Numbered #6444.
Famille napolitaine

Famille napolitaine – Giorgio Sommer, Famille napolitaine (neapolitan mother searching for lice in her son’s hair).

This last few lines have been added recently because, long since, this post is the most visited page of my blog and I would like to know the real reason. Thus, I will be glad if any visitor could leave a short comment (also if anonymous) explaining the (real) reason of his/her visit. Thank you a lot!


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