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Università degli Studi di Padova

PHAIDRA – Digital collections

Faculty of Engineering: portraits of graduating students (1886/87–1915/16)

The collection contains digitized copies of 20 portraits currently displayed in the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering offices (via Lungargine Piovego 1).

The oldest portrait was taken during the academic year 1886/87; the most recent one is from the academic year 1915/16. While the majority of the works depict graduating students, some of them are photographs of faculty members.

The portraits were shot using various techniques and printings processes: consequently, the collection includes albumen prints, aristotypes, gelatin prints, lithographs, and mixed media prints. The original photographs have been restored and put in special folders, and they are now part of the collections of the Biblioteca Centrale di Ingegneria (Engineering Central Library). Copies hang in their place, but they are still in the original frames.

Out of these 20 photographs, 17 were taken by either Luigi Fiorentini (1847–1901) or by his atelier. Two portraits were shot by Arturo Pospisil (1868–1924), whose studio was in via Pedrocchi; one was taken by Costante Agostini (1857–1941).

Agostini was The Veneranda Arca of S. Antonio’s appointed photographer, and his studio was located in Piazza delle Erbe (via Caneva 343).

Luigi Fiorentini was born in Milan in 1847 and worked in Como and Bassano. Starting from the year 1974 he was mainly active in Padova as well as Recoaro during summertime. After his death, his son Pietro followed in his footsteps, but he moved the atelier to Viareggio and then to Venice.

Until 1975 the Scuola d’applicazione per gli ingegneri (School of Applied Engineering) used to be part of the Faculty of Physics, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences.
The students enrolled in the School that year were 137: 33 students enrolled in the 1st year, 58 second-year students, and 46 third-year students. Here are some figures regarding the number of students who graduated in the following years: 30 graduates in 1880, 30 graduates in 1883, 35 graduates in 1889, 41 graduates in 1891, 55 graduates in 1894, 41 graduates in 1897, only 15 graduates in 1906, 64 graduates in 1914.
At the beginning of the academic year 1895/96, the School changed its location and moved from Palazzo Bo to Palazzo Cavalli and eventually to Palazzo Donghi. The University acquired the building in 1905, and its restoration project ended in 1931.

Suggested reading about the topic:

La memoria e l’oblio: ritratti di fotografi padovani (1840–1940) Civica galleria di piazza Cavour, 9 maggio–7 giugno 1992. Este, Zielo, 1992.
Segni di luce. Vol. 2: La fotografia italiana dall’età del collodio al pittorialismo, a cura di Italo Zannier. Ravenna, Longo, 1993.
Padova: i fotografi e la fotografia nell’Ottocento, a cura di Giuseppe Vanzella. Campodarsego, Gruppo Carraro, 1997.
I cento anni della Scuola per gli ingegneri dell’Università di Padova: 1876–1976, Antonio Favaro. Dolo, Istituto tipografico editoriale, 1978.
Annuario della regia Università di Padova: anno scolastico… ; per gli anni 1873/74–1878/79.
Annuario della R. Università degli studi di Padova per l’anno accademico… ; per gli anni 1880–1943.

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