A Discovery of World War II Photographs of the Original Piazza Nettuno Shrine


Recently I blogged about a painting of my father’s titled The Shrine.  If you haven’t read that post you might want to because this part of the story is pretty incredible, at least to me.  My father Edward Reep was a war artist in Italy in WWII and unbeknownst to us until just recently he had roll and rolls of film stashed in his studio in a cigar box.  I only found out by chance.  I found a book of contact prints on a shelf and was thrilled to find those – and even then he didn’t think to say he had the actual  film!  He’s almost 94 but I don’t think that’s it – he just doesn’t see this stuff as important.  I, however, am extremely interested in the history, not just because he’s Dad.

Anyhow, in the previous post I talked about a visit my husband and I made to Washington D.C. and our meeting with a curator at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.  We feel The Shrine should be on permanent exhibit (the painting is owned by The Smithsonian) and the blog post details the history of the painting itself.  So now we have these negatives and I am getting them digitized.  I’m kind of wearing myself thin trying to do all kinds of things at once but I feel time pressure – although Dad is in good health, he’s almost 94, and when he is gone, the history is gone with him.  So I want the photos so he can explain them.

The first 12 rolls are back and here are three that were amongst them.

This is the brick wall in Bologna with fresh blood where the shrine sprung up.  Dad was there watching the whole thing happen.

The photos are amazing.  I hate to keep using that word but it keeps springing to mind.

I was so excited to see these!  I had no idea they existed and they complete the history I was able to piece together in my previous post.

I’ll finish with the image of the painting although it’s in the previous post.  And I have some good news from museum director Elizabeth Broun who thinks  she may be able to find a place for the painting to be on permanent display in the Luce Foundation Center for American Art on the third floor of the museum. I hope for some follow-up news on that soon.

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3 Responses to “A Discovery of World War II Photographs of the Original Piazza Nettuno Shrine”

  1. MelissaMarsh says:

    Wow, wow, WOW. To have those photos is amazing!

    Now I really want to buy my plane ticket and visit… 😉

  2. Dear Susan, I’m writing from Bologna. I work at Istituto Parri visual Department, and I know very well the story of the Muro di Palazzo d’aCCursio (the wall shooted by your father on 21th april 1945). We have a short 8mm film about this day and….may be we can find your father. The images taken by your father are very interesting because show an unusual point of view of the wall, and the painting is wonderfull!
    It would be great to organize an exibithion here in bologna with the images and a copy of the painting, in 2013, on 21th april, the anniversary of liberation of the town!

  3. Howard Stevenson says:

    Dear Susan

    I read in an email I received from the Museum of Liberation in Bologna that you will be in the City to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the City.

    Over the last 8 months I have visited the city four times as my daughter is a student at the University. It has been an absolute love affair with the city. I have long connections with Italy, and a keen interest in the history of the resistance movement – but the history in Bologna seemed so much more powerful than many of the other places we have visited. In my research into the area I came across your blog, and the story of your father’s painting. The Shrine of the Partisans is such a powerful statement and I was amazed to hear about your father’s experience, his witness to that historic day, and then his ability to capture the moment in the most wonderful painting.

    It is a beautiful city – with a proud history. You must be extraordinarily proud of your father.

    I wish you well at the anniversary events – and very much wish I could be in the city to mark the occasion.

    If you are minded – do drop me a line, there are many more stories I could share about Bologna. In a very amateur way I have some of it in pictures – some photos here https://www.flickr.com/photos/131437868@N02/sets/72157651209892458/

    I have tried to capture a city with a history, but also one where the spirit of resistance remains strong.

    My best wishes


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