the Black Continent between 1800 and 1900 

Composed of 54 digital reproductions of photographs of the time, the exhibition tells the black and still mysterious Africa of the late 1800 and early 1900 through a selection of the most beautiful shots preserved by the Italian Geographic Society, which has numerous testimonies and thousands of images organized in collections of the many Italian expeditions (and not only) from the last decades of the 1800s until the Second World War. In some cases the photographers were professional ones following the expeditions, in others the same explorers, often passionate and prepared users of the photographic medium. In their shots - of portrait, reportage and landscape - they show how the populations and landscapes, of what was at the time the least known continent on the planet, appeared to the first Western visitors. The exhibition unfolds in a fascinating journey through many of the countries that make up Africa. A journey that, starting from East Africa at the time of the Italian colonies, takes us to Sub-Saharan Africa, then to the Africa of the equatorial forests and down to Southern Africa. A photographic journey that makes us understand how many Westerners could (and can) get sick of what was once called Africa's sickness, that feeling of nostalgia that took those who had visited the Continent making it difficult to stay away from it.


The collections, from which the images are taken, are: Leopoldo Traversi, Vincenzo Filonardi, Second Bottego Expedition of 1895 (photographs taken by Carlo Citerni), Lincoln De Castro, Tancredi Mission to Lake Tana of 1908 (photographs taken by Maurizio Rava), Tancredi Mission on the Piano del Sale of 1909 (photographs taken by Alfonso Maria Tancredi ), Citerni Mission for the delimitation of the Italo-Ethiopian borders of 1910-1912 (photographs taken by Carlo Citerni ), Ostini (photographs by the Royal Commercial Agency of Italy to Gondar), De Vecchi (photographs taken by anonymous), Alberto Pollera, Mission Dainelli to Lake Tana of 1937 (photographs taken by members of the expedition), Zavattari Sagan-Omo biological mission of 1939 (photographs taken by Oreste Maestri), Levi Bianchini (photographs taken by anonymous), Paolo Pasi, Guido Bonarelli (photographs taken by various authors), Catholic Mission of Asmara. To the collections of Italian origin is added the French one related to the second mission of the Expédition Citroën Center Afrique (1924-1925) which touched most of the African countries crossing the continent from north to south and from east to west. Promoted by the car manufacturer Citroën, it was documented by photographers and operators Georges Specht and Léon Poirier

Curated by:

Alessandro Luigi Perna

A production of:

Eff&Ci - Facciamo Cose (We Do Things)


In collaboration with:

Nadia Fusco / Historical Fund - Archive of the Italian Geographic Society


Pictures of:

Historical Fund - Archive of the Italian Geographic Society

background photo of the page © Historical Fund - Archive of the Italian Geographic Society