Historical Iconography: Italy

For historians photographs have more than a decorative function. They document visual information equally as valid in their own way as manuscripts. Whether it be the artist's photograph of a model, the bureaucrat's identity document of an internee or a military recruit, or the documentation of a rite of passage like marriage, the photograph has interested the social historian increasingly since the technology first became available in the nineteenth century. Like other documents, they need to be understood in context, and are displayed here in a rough chronological succession accompanied by short commentaries rather than captions.

The photographs published here originated principally in the collections of the Bortoloso, Abrams and Panizzon families. Erminia Fantin, sister to the brothers Fantin, married into the Bortoloso family and continued to live in the Fantin family home in San Vito de Leguzzano. Maria `Gina' Fantin of Schio, who married the socialist Luigi Abrams, was a cousin so close to Checco, as FG Fantin was known to friends and relations, that in the period of post war upheaval he showed her his hand grenades. She contributed a number of images to this collection. Gaetano Panizzon was an anarchist comrade of FG Fantin. Their friendship was close, both in the Schio District and, after they emigrated, in the North Queensland canefields and Geelong, where Fantin resided on and off between the wars as a member of the Panizzon household. Gaetano's son Spartaco Panizzon also contributed a number of photographs to this collection. Professor Toni Comin also contributed an important photo to this collection.A few of these photo's have been published more or less prominently elsewhere, but are brought here together for the first time to provide a wider context for images directly referring to Fantin. Many were briefly exhibited in May 1989 in Adelaide by the Federazione Italiana Lavoratori Emigrati e Famiglie [FILEF] under the title Francesco Fantin: Myth & Reality. Most have their first accessible showing here.

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