Carlo Naya (1816-1882)

Carlo Naya 2
Carlo Naya, Pecheurs Portant Ses Filets, Ile De Chioggia, 1875 I Vintage Albumen print I 24,4 x 19,7 cm

Carlo Naya, born in Piedmont, graduated in law in Pisa, travelled in Italy, Europe, Egypt and the Middle East (he opened his first photographic studio in Constantinople) and finally settled in Venice. The Ditta Naya had its first premises in the riva degli Schiavoni, with a workshop in campo San Maurizio, and after 1867 the shop was in St Mark’s Square. He won medals at International Exhibitions, his catalogues were translated, he had correspondents from many European capitals, he was also the King’s photographer, with exclusive rights to shoot major events in Venice. He died in 1882, the firm remained open until 1918 and part of his archive was given to Osvaldo Böhm.

This is the Venice of the shots taken by Carlo Naya, who has been photographing it since 1857, when he arrived here from Pisa. His photographic studio in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was one of the most important in Venice and Italy, with an international market. Using large-format view cameras, Naya photographed everything that could be photographed: views, architecture, views, works of art and scenes of city life. Over the years she compiled a true “visual census”, which became a precious archive of the architectural, environmental and artistic wealth of the city and its lagoon and a piece of photographic history.

In the first shots the human figure is rare, given the long exposure times required, but as the technique evolves the photographs become more populated. Naya photographed for the Venetians, who found their city in his shots, for scholars and artists, who thus had at their disposal real catalogues of works, for foreigners and travellers, who found in them the imagery of the iconographic tradition and the memory of the places they had visited. Carlo Naya has a profound artistic culture and great technical skill, his photographs recall both the Venetian vedutista tradition and the photographic innovation of the time (in the same years Nadar took his first aerial photographs).