press release

1st Venice Biennale 1895 - Opening Biennale
I. Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia



During the winter of 1894-1895, work continued on the construction of the Palazzo dell'Esposizione (Exhibition venue) in the Giardini di Castello. The design was by the Council's architect, Enrico Trevisanato, and the neoclassical facade by Venetian artist, Marius De Maria. Its name was initially "Pro Arte" and was subsequently changed to "Italia". On 30th April, the I Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia (1st International Art Exhibition of the City of Venice) was opened in the presence of the King and Queen, Umberto I and Margherita di Savoia. The exhibition met with great public acclaim (224,000 visitors).


In the council meeting of 30th March, the first decisions were taken: to adopt a 'by invitation' system; to reserve a section of the Exhibition for foreign artists too; to admit works by uninvited Italian artists, as selected by a jury. On 6th April, Mayor Selvatico announced the first Exhibition for the following year. On 10th April, economist and scholar Antonio Fradeletto was nominated Secretary general. The place of work was the little Council library.


Headed by its mayor, Riccardo Selvatico, the Venetian City Council passed a resolution on 19th April to set up an Esposizione biennale artistica nazionale (biennial exhibition of Italian art), to be inaugurated on 22nd April 1894.