photographs between the '800 and the '900 from the Alinari Collections
The first known landscape photographs of Sardinia, by Édouard Delessert, a French photographer, date back to 1854. To modern eyes they still retain an inimitable power and mystery, transparent and enigmatic at the same time. Ever since, the photographer's eye has been focused on Sardinia. Often from elsewhere, the photographers discovered Sardinia by observing it through the lens and tried to give an account of what they saw. Vittorio Besso, in the late 1800s, and Vittorio Alinari, in the years just prior to World War I, captured quite different aspects. The former documented the construction of railroads on the island, the latter has given us landscape shots of the Sardinian coasts that still today are magical. Sardinia with its landscapes, monuments, work, holidays, social life was seen as the expression of a world that had remained the same for centuries. At the end of the nineteenth century, Italy discovered Sardinia, wild and backward, but also original and authentic, an image nurtured by the novels of Maria Grazia Deledda. Then came the twentieth century, an epoch in Sardinia of great hydraulic works from before Fascism up into the regime. The icon of this phase is the great Tirso dam, the best known example of Mussolini's reclamation works. The years flew by and with them came World War II. Before long Sardinia came to be known in the field as the "vedette of Rome" and "aircraft carrier of Italy".