The photographic patrimony of the Sella Foundation consists of approximately 1,000,000 pictures of local history and mountains as well as other subjects. The funds and the photographic series listed below number over one hundred, some of which have been in the family’s possession since the second half of the 1800’s. The principal collections are those of Vittorio Sella and his brother Erminio, their father Giuseppe Venanzio, those of Venanzio and Cesare Sella, of the Studio fotografico Rossetti – with over 500,000 plates of the Biellese and the Biellese people – and of Vittorio Besso, the first to open a photographic studio in Biella in 1859.
Of particular interest is the collection of Agostino Ferrari with 30,000 photographs documenting the Alpine range from the Maritime to the Julian Alps.
The Foundation’s photographic archive includes over 60,000 historic pictures of mountains, recording several important expeditions :
Caucasus, Vittorio Sella, 1889, 1890, 1896
Alaska, Vittorio Sella, 1897
United States, Erminio Sella, 1898
Sikkim, Vittorio Sella, 1899
North Pole, Duke of the Abruzzi, 1899-1900
K2, Alfred Eckenstein, 1902
Ruwenzori, Vittorio Sella, 1906
Karakorum, Vittorio Sella, 1909
Caucasus and Persia, Mario Piacenza, 1910
Kashmir, Mario Piacenza, 1913
K2, Duke of Spoleto, 1927-1928
K2, Ardito Desio, 1953-1954
Not included in the funds or photographic series are the pictures of G. and A. Abraham, F. Arrigo, of captain and cartographer Felice Boffa Ballaran, companion of Tucci on the expedition to Tibet, of F. Bogge, F. De Filippi, W. F. Donkin, M. Fantin, D. W. Freshfield, W. Heckel, E. S. Kennedy, G. Merisio, G. Merzbacher, C. Nebbia, F. Negri, G. Sommer, Tairraz, M. Vanni, all of which are conserved in the miscellaneous mountain archive.
Also worthy of note are the photographic records on the subject of industry, – especially textiles, in the Biellese area as well as other Italian regions (Sardinia, Liguria, Veneto).
The funds of the Foundation contain not only photographic works but also everything connected with the photographer (individual, firm or organisation) such as the photographic instruments of the time, letters, diaries, documents and books on the subject. Worth a special mention is the “Plico del Fotografo” by Giuseppe Venanzio Sella (1856, first edition) which was the first complete treatise, both theoretical and practical, to be published in Italy.
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