Vittorio Sella

The photographic series of the Vittorio Sella archive is a collection of pictures taken by the celebrated mountaineer and mountain photographer between 1879 and the end of the 1930’s. The series is divided into Alps, Caucasus, several expeditions led by the Duke of the Abruzzi, and Miscellaneous. The Alps series,  starting in 1879, documents almost all the principal peaks of the Alps on the Italian side as well as on the French and Swiss sides.

Of special importance is the reportage of the expeditions he organised to Caucasus (1889-1890-1896) for which he was awarded prizes by Tsar Nicholas II and by the Royal Geographical Society of London. These first international experiences and recognitions established his fame as a great photographer, especially of mountains. Luigi Amedeo di Savoia, Duke of the Abruzzi, an important figure on international expeditions in those years, invited him to be official photographer on expeditions to Alaska (1897), Ruwenzori (1906) and Karakorum (1909) from which Vittorio Sella returned with a series of pictures of great aesthetic, documental and mountaineering interest.

Another major expedition was led by English mountaineer Douglas W. Freshfield to Sikkim along the slopes of Kangchenjunga (1899). Besides the photographic documentation of official expeditions, the Sella Foundation conserves pictures in the Miscellaneous series including family trips (Morocco, Portugal, Spain, France,etc.), holidays, hunting shoots, daily life in the family home in San Gerolamo above Biella, and the principal places of interest in the Biellese. Particularly interesting are the pictures taken in Sardinia of customs, traditions and the natural beauty of the island as well as farming life and methods of wine production used in the “Sella and Mosca” firm founded in Alghero in 1899 by his brother Erminio and brother-in-law Edgardo Mosca. The photographic material, 30×40 plates and smaller sizes, films and prints of various formats, photoengravings and various pieces of equipment are kept in the Sella Foundation and to a lesser extent in its ancient laboratory next to the monastery  of San Gerolamo. Over the years there have been numerous national and international publications and exhibitions dedicated to him.