Photo-documentarian, founder of the Fratelli Alinari together with his brothers. The son of an engraver, Alinari grew up in a Florentine art family. Leopoldo studied with engraver Luigi Bardi and learned the emerging art of photography while training in the 1840s. In 1852 he established a studio in the Via Nazionale in Florence. Two years later, his brothers Giuseppe and Romualdo (1830-1891) joined him in the venture which they then named "Fratelli Alinari, Fotografi Editori." Giuseppe and Romualdo managed the business while Leopoldo traveled, photographing monuments in Rome, Florence, Naples, Pompeii and elsewhere in Italy. By the 1860s Fratelli Alinari were receiving commissions for photo documentation. Prince Albert of Britain commissioned them to photograph the drawings of Raphael in Florence, Vienna and Venice. The business expanded to a portrait studio and then publishing firm. After Leopoldo's death, the remaining brothers expanded Alinari subjects to document daily life in Florence, which was then the seat of government for Italy. Alinari photographs form a core of historic images of art historical monuments, some of which were subsequently destroyed or "restored" from their original use. The photographs also capture architecture in an environment more contemporary to its original than modern images do.
Romilly John Allen
"Photographs" (Letter from Italy). Burlington Magazine 79 (May 1964):427-8; International Center of Photography. Encyclopedia of Photography. New York: Crown Publishers, 1984, pp. 22-4; Zevi, Filippo, ed.. Alinari: Photographers of Florence, 1852-1920. London: Alinari Edizioni/Scottish Arts Council, 1978; Gli Alinari Fotografi a Firenze 1852-1920. Florence: Fratelli Alinari Editrice, 1985.