This exhibition examines the role that British photography played in creating a visual record of Italy from shortly after the invention of medium to the eve of the First World War. It considers the ways in which photography (not exclusively British) shaped the British appreciation and understanding of Italy in that century, highlighting photography as a vehicle of cultural transmission, translation, filter, and exchange between two cultures.
The exhibition places photography within a longer history of image making and consumption, beginning in the heyday of the Grand Tour in the eighteenth century, and sets photography in a context of other contemporary artistic practices. The show explores the ways in which photography was influenced by, and in turn influenced, other modes of image making, not just aesthetically but in terms of documentary and touristic functions—and in aspects of production, distribution, and consumption.
Photographs of Italy and the British Imagination, 1840–1914 is curated by Scott Wilcox, Senior Research Scholar at the Center, and Antonella Pelizzari, Professor of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century History of Photography at Hunter College, The City University of New York. An illustrated companion to the exhibition, edited by Wilcox and Pelizzari, is published by the Center in association with Yale University Press.