Carlo Naya was an Italian photographer known for his pictures of Venice including its works of art and views of the city for a collaborative volume in 1866. He also documented the restoration of Giotto's frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. Naya was born in Tronzano di Vercelli in 1816 and studied law at the University of Pisa. An inheritance allowed him to travel to major cities in Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. He was advertising his services as portrait photographer in Istanbul in 1845, and opened his studio in Venice in 1857. He sold his work through photographer and optician Carlo Ponti
. Following Naya's death in 1882, his studio was run by his wife, then by her second husband. In 1918 it was closed and publisher Osvaldo Böhm bought most of Naya's archive.
Carlo Naya studied law in Pisa before becoming a diplomat according to his father’s wishes. After his father’s death Naya embarked on a tour through Europe and Asia with his brother. During his stay in Paris in 1839 he was taught the daguerreotype process, which fascinated him. Naya settled in Venice in 1857, where he set up a photographic studio. For several years he collaborated closely with photographer Carlo Ponti
but in 1868 he founded his own studio. During his long career, Naya photographed every aspect of the city of Venice. His views of the palaces on the Grand Canal, and his panoramas of the city give a complete picture of Venice’s architecture in the mid-nineteenth century.
Source: The National Galleries of Scotland
Carlo Naya (1816-1882) was born Carlo Naja at Tronzano Vercellese near Turin. He studied law in Pisa, where he graduated in 1840. Until recently it was thought that for the next fifteen years, he and his brother Giovanni travelled widely throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, only photographing occasionally for pleasure. However, recent research has revealed that Carlo Naya worked as a professional daguerreotypist long before his move to Venice. He apparently operated briefly in Prague around 1845, before opening a daguerreotype studio in Constantinople the following year. When his brother died in 1857, Carlo returned to Italy and settled in Venice. Initially he worked with the established publisher Carlo Ponti, who distributed his prints. The two men soon quarrelled, however, and Naya opened his own studio. In 1868 he opened a larger photographic shop in the Piazza San Marco, his business soon growing to rival Ponti‘s. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the two firms were considered the leading photographic concerns in the city. At the time of Naya‘s death in 1882, Edward Wilson, an experienced and knowledgeable writer on photography, described Naya‘s studio as ‘the largest establishment we think we ever saw devoted to photography, in an old palace on the other side of the grand canal‘.
Ponti and Naya were both photographic chroniclers of the city‘s tourist sights. Greater ease of travel meant that tourists came in ever increasing numbers to see the splendours of Italy, and these visitors were eager to take away with them souvenirs to show their friends and family at home and to help them remember what they had seen. Thus a photographer with a large stock of negatives showing the buildings and monuments, canals and palaces, harbour views and gondolas of Venice was assured of a steady, reliable income for years to come.