Last November, Google Inc. began hosting an online archive of LIFE magazine’s photographs. Many images in this archive—there are reportedly some 10 million in all—never saw print publication. It seems Google is now posting these photos a few million at a time. But many carry no caption, or even date. Plus typos are rampant. So a bit of detective work is often necessary to find what you want and then sort out what you are seeing.
In December the Society of Fellows Weblog reported on the first batch of images that the LIFE/Google partnership produced. That included about 125 largely unpublished photos of the American Academy in Rome in 1947, 1949, and 1957. Now half a year later, a few hundred new photos from the May 1957 LIFE photoshoot have cropped up via Google Images. You can see the full set here (Google search phrase: “American Academy in Home”!).
The photographer in 1957 was James Whitmore (1932-2000), who worked for Time and LIFE between 1949 and 1962. Only a fraction of these images found their way into the pages of LIFE, in an edgy photoessay comparing AAR artists and student priests in Rome (published 23 December 1957).
Looking back over more than a half-century, the 1957 James Whitmore collection comes off not so much as some musty period piece, but rather as a striking document of the continuity of work and life at the American Academy in Rome.
Here are some representative images from this massive group of Whitmore LIFE photographs of the Academy as it was in spring 1957…identifications most definitely welcome!
More to come from LIFE/Google Images…you can be sure of it!