Lights of Venice. Travel photography in the 19th century

the enchanting photos of Ferdinand Ongania on display at the National Museum of Villa Pisani

From 12 April 2014 to 02 November 2014


From 12 April to 2 November, the Museum of Villa Pisani in Stra 2014 is hosting a photo exhibition in Venice: 'Lights of Venice. Travel photography in the 19th century '.


The photographic exhibition in Venice at the Villa Pisani, Italy will present, for the first time in an integral manner, the collections 'Streets, canals and islands of the lagoon (1890-1895)' and 'Streets and canals of Venice' by Ferdinando Ongania, over 200 photos and images of Venice considered valuable evidence of the image of the city during the second half of the 19th century.


Reproduced and published in photo-engravings, the images by Ferdinando Ongania of 'Calli and Canali' are a faithful reproduction of Venice, both from a strictly urban point of view and the genuine atmosphere of a bygone everyday era. 'Lights of Venice' exhibition continues the work undertaken by the latest exhibitions at Villa Pisani, among which 'Emma Ciardi 1879-1933. Venetian Impressionism '(2009); '19th Century Venice'(2010' Venice between 19th and 20th century in photographs of Tomaso Filippi' (2013). Since 2009, Villa Pisani, in Stra, Italy hosts annual events to promote and enhance the artistic heritage from the 19thcentury through exhibitions and meetings which are highly appreciated by the public.

The historic photos of Venice by Ferdinand Ongania, (Venice 1842 - St. Moritz 1911 have allowed the National Museum of Villa Pisani, Stra Venice, to present a faithful recreation of Venice in the late 19th Century. Gorgeous old photos of Venice, Italy show elegant palaces and monumental areas, narrow streets and courtyards, picturesque square and canals where it is possible to see small details of the social reality of the last century. In addition to the great classics - St. Mark's Square, Bridge of Sighs, Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal - these wonderful historical photos of Venice show a less well known side, but still with charm. Places like Santa Marta, San Pietro di Castello, the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello, but also Mazzorbo or Saint Francis of the desert: away from the stereotypes of the 19th-century landscape paintings, the works of Ferdinando Ongania, 'Calli and Canali' and 'Streets, canals and the lagoon islands (1890-1895)', tell a fascinating new way to 'see' the Venetian landscape: fishing boats in the salt marshes of the lagoon or the Giudecca Canal, ladies walking with sun umbrellas, sailboats in St. Mark's basin and  characters moving by gondola protected by felze...

Considered one of the greatest Venetian publishers in between the 18th and 19thCenturies, Ferdinando Ongania was the heir of the famous brilliant typography of Aldus Manutius, who entered into the heart of the debate on the need to protect and preserve the artistic and social heritage of Venice (at the time already very debated issues supported by the likes of Peter Wild, Alvise Zorzi and Camillo Boito) Ferdinando Ongania decided to start studying and documenting the city using photography to witness live and realistic evidence. He then started a project to take pictures of the city with its inhabitants and created his first collection of panoramic photos of Venice which, in addition to their documentary value, show an attention to light and shade and an aesthetic that make them real and true masterpieces.

The work of Ferdinando Ongania, Venice 'Calli and Canali of Venice', is thus able to consolidate the role of the so-called light writing (photo-writing) in city portrait documenting the changes in the urban landscape photography in Venice, between the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the20th century.

The exhibition of old pictures of Venice, Italy will be joined by the best photographs of the competition 'Lights of Venice. Travel in Contemporary Photography', established to promote the art and culture of Venice and to stimulate creative freedom. The Villa Pisani National Museum will host an exhibition of unique and exciting Venice old photos, of past and present, but also offer the opportunity to talk and discuss about the different interpretations and new methods for capturing images.

In the splendid setting of Villa Pisani, Stra, the exhibitions of 2014 one can admire the valuable old Venice pictures from the collections by Ferdinando Ongania: a unique opportunity to see some great Venice photos in black and white of its urban landscape. A side Venice that now survives only in the memories alongside contemporary Venice!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff


Period: From 12 April 2014 to 02 November 2014

Event location: Villa Pisani National Museum in Stra

Contacts: For more information about the exhibitions at Villa Pisani -