Giorgio Roster (Florence, 1843-1927) was an eclectic scientist: beyond his regular duties as doctor, hygienist, and professor, he was equally dedicated to botany and mineralogy. He was also a pioneer in scientific photography, a new discipline with a powerful impact on nineteenth century science, which strove for ever more objective means of knowledge.
Roster began taking pictures in 1886 using a “Mckenstein 9x12”. From that moment he applied the new medium systematically and with remarkable skill to his scientific research, specializing in microphotography to explore the wondrous microcosm invisible to the human eye.
The Florentine professor established a deep bond with the island of Elba, where from 1875 he would spend summers in his villa in Ottonella, on the Gulf of Portoferraio, concentrating on mineralogy and botany. He made fundamental contributions to the mineralogical knowledge of Elba, and in 1895 transformed the villa into a splendid garden for the acclimatization of exotic plants, a center for study and experimentation among the first of its kind in Italy.
He also took a great interest in long-distance landscape photography, carrying out between 1893 and 1895 an interesting series of telephotographs that immortalize the island’s natural beauty, and which reveal an extraordinary mastery of the medium.