After Nature Swiss Photography in the 19th Century


Francis Frith, The Staubbach, ca. 1862 © ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv

After photography was proclaimed as a French invention in 1839 in Paris, the new medium quickly embarked on its victory march throughout Europe. Although the race for technical innovation started in the cultural centres, the heavy cameras soon made their way to the villages and the countryside, to remote valleys and mountains, where photographers gained recognition for their images “after nature”. How was photography able to spread so rapidly? Who were the Swiss pioneers who constantly came up with new applications, from representative portraits to mug shots, from nature and landscape studies to the representation of industry and technology, from a scientific practice to the documentation of events?

The exhibition “After nature” presents a previously underexplored chapter in the story of Swiss photography. For the very first time, a retrospective exhibition presents the first 50 years of this new medium in Switzerland. It brings together exquisite works from numerous public and private collections, in order to capture this momentous invention in its artistic, social and economic dimensions.

A co-production between the Fotostiftung Schweiz (Winterthur), MASI Lugano and the Photo Elysée (Lausanne). A comprehensive publication in a German and in a French version will be available from Steidl, Göttingen.


  • Piazza Bernardino Luini 6, 6900 Lugano
  • Tue / Wed / Fri: 11 am – 6 pm
    Thurs: 11 am – 8 pm
    Sat / Sun / Public Holidays: 10 am – 6 pm
    Mon: closed
  • Full price: CHF 20.–/Reduced: CHF 16.–/Ticino Ticket/IoInsegno: CHF 14.–