Wilhelm von Gloeden (Mecklenburg, Northern Germany, 1856 - Taormina, Italy 1931.
In 1878 he went to Italy, hoping to cure his lung problem. He settled in Taormina, a small seaside town in Sicily, which he was to call his 'heaven on earth'. There he regained his health, quite likely also as a result of the erotic fulfillment he found.
From the early 1880s on, he specialized in photographs of naked boys in bucolic settings, becoming a pioneer of open air photography. Gloeden's talent in getting his models to pose gracefully when composing scenes, as well as the use of special filters and tints to enhance the effect of the pictures, added to the quality of his achievements. Thematically similar works by contemporaries, like his cousin Wilhelm von Plüschow, who lived in Rome, and his sometime assistant Vincenzo Galdi, though commendable in their own way, lacked the aura of Gloeden's pictures. However, they were sometimes much more blatant. Still, Gloeden's discreetly sensual message was well understood by those of similar interests. Most likely, comparatively direct pictures, such as embracing couples, were published in special magazines (already existing, particularly in Germany), rather than in mainstream ones. In his best days, from about 1890 to 1914, he had been so productive that the complete corpus of his male photographs was estimated to be up to 7,000.