Blue Grotto, Capri Island, Italy


This photochrome print of the Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra) is part of “Views of Architecture and Other Sites in Italy” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). Located on the island of Capri off the southern coast of Italy, the grotto is a natural wonder known for the brilliant and mystical blue hue of the walls and the water within. The grotto is approximately 50 meters long and 30 meters wide, its entrance formed by a two-meter square opening in a rock wall. The cavernous interior, known as the duomo (cathedral), rises from seven to 14 meters; the water below is 13 meters deep. The grotto’s blue glow is produced by natural light entering the water and being refracted onto the walls of the grotto. The grotto is associated with Roman history and mythology, as it is believed that the ancient Romans regarded it as a nymphaeum, or a sanctuary for water nymphs. The subterranean passage found within the grotto also suggests a link to the imperial villa of the Emperor Tiberius. Although the precise date is unknown, it is generally accepted that the grotto was rediscovered in 1826 by the Polish poet, August Kopisch (1799–1853), and the Swiss artist, Ernst Fries (1801–33).

Subject Date

Publication Information

Detroit Publishing Company, Detroit, Michigan


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photomechanical print : photochrom, color


  • The Detroit Photographic Company was launched as a photographic publishing firm in the late 1890s by Detroit businessman and publisher William A. Livingstone, Jr., and photographer and photo-publisher Edwin H. Husher. They obtained exclusive rights to use the Swiss "Photochrom" process for converting black-and-white photographs into color images and printing them by photolithography. This innovative process was applied to the mass production of color postcards, prints, and albums for sale to the American market. The firm became the Detroit Publishing Company in 1905.
  • Title from the Detroit Publishing Co., Catalogue J--foreign section, Detroit, Mich. : Detroit Publishing Company, 1905.
  • Print no. "1871".

Last updated: March 8, 2016