A Particular View of Sicily

Wilhelm von Gloeden, François-Xavier Ortoli and Fosco Maraini

Portrait of a Girl
Wilhelm von Gloeden, Portrait of a Girl, Sicily, 1900 ca., FXO 516, Historical Archives of the European Union

In the early 1950s, a young Frenchman, François-Xavier Ortoli, not yet in his thirties, was starting out on a promising career as a French public official. After his wartime experiences in the Free French Forces in Southeast Asia, he entered the ‘École Nationale d’Administration’ and later joined the Budget Inspectorate.

In 1951 he was assigned to the Franco–Italian Conciliation Commission, where he was given the task of implementing the economic clauses of the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty. This role involved travelling throughout Italy, an experience which had a significant impact on his professional, cultural and political development.

This impact was at its greatest when Ortoli visited Sicily between 1951 and 1952, as testified by a collection of stunning photographs, dating from the beginning of the twentieth century, from the studio of Wilhelm von Gloeden in Taormina.