Giorgio Sommer (1834–1914) was born in Frankfurt am Main (in modern-day Germany), and 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.
After studying business in Frankfurt, Sommer opened his first photography studio in Switzerland, where he made relief images of mountains for the Swiss government. In 1856 moved his business to Naples and later (1866) formed a partnership with fellow German photographer Edmund Behles (also known as Edmondo Behles) who owned a studio in Rome. Operating from their respective Naples and Rome studios, Sommer and Behles became one of the largest and most prolific photography concerns in Italy.
Sommer’s catalog included images from the Vatican Museum, the National Archeological Museum at Naples, the Roman ruins at Pompeii, as well as street and architectural scenes of Naples, Florence, Rome, Capri and Sicily. Most notably, Sommer published his comprehensive album Dintorni di Napoli which contained over one hundred images of everyday scenes in Naples. In April 1872, he documented a very large eruption of Mount Vesuvius in a series of stunning photographs.
Sommer and Behles exhibited extensively and earned numerous honors and prizes for their work (London 1862, Paris 1867, Vienna 1873, Nuremberg 1885). At one time, Sommer was appointed official photographer to King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy.
Sommer was involved in every aspect of the photography business. He published his own images that he sold in his studios and to customers across Europe. In later years, he photographed custom images for book illustrations, as well as printing his own albums and postcards. Sommer worked in all the popular formats of his day: carte de visite, stereoview, and large albumen prints (approximately 8×10) which were sold individually and in bound albums.
The partnership with Behles ended in 1874, after which each photographer continued his own business. In Naples, Sommer opened a total of four additional studios: at No. 4 and No. 8 Monte di Dio, No. 5 Magazzino S. Caterina, and a last at Piazza della Vittoria.
Sommer died in Naples in 1914.
The Château de Murol is a castle overlooking the town of Murol in the département of Puy-de-Dôme in the Auvergne région, France.
The first castle was built on a basalt outcrop in the 12th century to provide surveillance over several roads. It was reinforced in the 14th century by Guillaume de Sam, who built the keep, a second chapel and the eastern buildings.
The castle became the property of the d’Estaing family when the sole heir, Jehanne de Murol, married Gaspard d’Estaing in the 15th century. The castle was richly decorated and, under François I d’Estaing, in the 16th century it was surrounded by a huge curtain wall with towers. Emerging unscathed from the sieges during the Catholic League, the castle was transformed when Jean d’Estaing built a more comfortable Renaissance pavilion at the foot of the inner castle. The castle was later abandoned.
Although he ordered the destruction of numerous castles and fortresses, Richelieu spared Murol thanks to the prestige of the d’Estaing family and their influence in the French court. After being used as a prison for many years, it eventually became a bandits’ hideout during the Revolution. During the 19th century, it fell to ruin and local inhabitants pillaged the site for stone; its classification as an historical monument (it has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1889) helped to save it and it is now the property of the commune of Murol.
The castle has been developed as an important tourist site in recent years. The Compagnons de Gabriel organise guided tours and son et lumière shows designed to give a genuine view of life in a medieval castle. Displays of medieval martial arts are given in the lower courtyard.
Entrance through the outer curtain wall is by a fortified gatehouse in the south. The Renaissance Pavilion is in the outer courtyard. Though dilipated, the facade still shows ancient mouldings and pilasters. The inner castle, to the north, boasts 10 m (33 ft) high walls, built on a basalt base. Next to the keep, connected to a smaller tower by a curtain wall, are the two chapels, the older from the 13th century and the other 15th century. A ramp leads to a door, decorated with the arms of the Murol and d’Estaing families, that gives access to the inner courtyard. Still visible are the remains of a gallery, the kitchen, a bakery and several outbuildings.
The curtain walls can be reached up a spiral staircase and it possible to walk all round the ramparts. From the top of the keep the view extends over the town of Murol, the Couze Valley, Lake Chambon, Monts Dore and the Tartaret volcano.