Paul Frecker
Fine Photographs

Neapolitan idler

A hand-coloured carte-de-visite portrait of a bare-footed Neapolitan man taking it easy in a wicker basket propped up against a stone wall. An inked inscription in the lower margin reads: ‘Naples un lazzarone.’

A 'lazzarone' was any of the poorer class of homeless idlers of Naples who lived by chance work or begging. Such figures were once common on the streets of Naples.

In 1812 Stendhal wrote in his journal: ‘Pensez-vous donc que le métier de lazzarone soit un métier d'honnête homme? − Il n'y en a pas de plus honnête; on n'est ni maître ni valet; on ne dépend que de soi; on ne travaille que lorsqu'il y a urgence, et il n'y a jamais urgence, tant qu'on a un bon soleil.’ [English: ‘Do you think that the job of lazzarone is the profession of an honest man? There is none more honest; one is neither master nor valet; one has only oneself to think of; one need only work when urgency requires and there is never any urgency while the sun is shining’].

Photographer unidentified.

Condition: the print presents a few small imperfections but is otherwise in excellent condition and the hand-colouring, which is fresh and unfaded, is very well-executed. The mount is clean, firm and solid.

Dimensions: the dimensions of a standard carte-de-visite are approximately 4.1" by 2.5" (10.5 cm by 6.3 cm).

price:  £70
code: cat027
lazzarone, Naples, Neapolitan, Neapolitano, idler, idling