Vittorio Sella Photographs

Collection Metadata


Vittorio Sella Photographs


The Italian photographer and mountaineer Vittorio Sella (1859–1943) was one of the first photographers to merge primarily documentary mountaineering photography with aesthetics borrowed from landscape painting. His work shows both exquisite detail and an enormous understanding of mood and composition. While he did not see his photographic work as art, he was trained in painting and exhibited two pieces in 1882. Sella understood that his primary audience would be climbers, and his pictures offer clear, almost topographic views of climbing routes.

The Vittorio Sella Photographs comprise 187 items by Vittorio Sella and two items by unidentified photographers. Most of the images were taken between 1880 and 1909, when Sella participated in expeditions in the Alps (1879-1896), the Caucasus (1889, 1890, and 1896), Alaska (1897), Sikkim and Nepal (1899), the Ruwenzori (1906), and the Karakoram (1909).

The collection is arranged by size and by geographic and chronological divisions established by Sella. All but two of the photographs are identified with item numbers which correspond to a finding aid created in 2010.

For most items, the title was taken from a typewritten label in English affixed to the verso by American Alpine Club general secretary and librarian LeRoy Jeffers.


Sella, Vittorio, 1859-1943, photographer


1880-1958 (bulk 1880-1909)

Collection Items

Positive 1/6092, negative KR88.

Positive 1/6132, negative KR128.

Positive 1/6158, negative KR152.
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