Paradise of Exiles: Early Photography in Italy at The Met Fifth Avenue, March 13 – August 13, 2017

Paradise of Exiles: Early Photography in Italy focuses on Italy’s importance as a center of exchange and experimentation during the first three decades of photography’s history—from 1839, the year of its invention, to 1871, the year Italy became a unified nation. The exhibition highlights the little-known contribution of Italian photographers to the development of the new medium through some 35 photographs and albums drawn from The Met collection, along with 11 loans, including rare daguerreotypes and photographs related to the Risorgimento, the period of modern Italian unification.

Deemed a “Paradise of Exiles” by the British poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, Italy attracted not only 19th-century Romantics, but also many of photography’s earliest practitioners who traveled to the peninsula in order to capture its monuments and distinctive topography. At the same time, Italians adopted daguerreotypes and paper negatives as a means to represent their own cultural patrimony during a period of political upheaval.” — The Met

Giacomo Caneva (Italian, 1812–1865). Carlotta Cortudino, ca. 1852. Salted paper print from paper negative. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gilman Collection, Purchase, Joseph M. Cohen Gift, 2005

Firmin-Eugène Le Dien (French, 1817–1865). Pompeii, Pompey’s Lane, Tomb Monument of Mamia, ca. 1853. Salted paper print from a waxed paper negative. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Moran Gift, in memory of Louise Chisholm Moran, 2013

Léon Gérard (French, active 1817-1896). Drawing of Christ from Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” 1857–61. Albumen silver print from paper negative. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gilman Collection, Purchase, Denise and Andrew Saul Gift, 2005

Pietro Dovizielli (Italian, 1804–1885). Temple of Vesta, ca. 1855. Salted paper print from paper negative. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

Robert Macpherson (British, 1811–1872). The Valley of the Anio, with the Upper and Lower Cascatelle, Mecenas’s Villa, and Distant Campagna, 1858 or earlier. Albumen silver print from glass negative. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gilman Collection, Purchase, W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg Gift, 2005

Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (French, 1804–1892). Ponte Rotto, Rome, 1842. Daguerreotype. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Moran Gift, in memory of Louise Chisholm Moran, Joyce F. Menschel Gift, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 2016 Benefit Fund, and Gift of Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler, Theresa Sackler and Family, 2016

Paradise of Exiles: Early Photography in Italy is organized by Beth Saunders, Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Images courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.