The third volume of the series of Photographic Albums of the Intesa Sanpaolo Historical Archives is devoted to a striking and previously unpublished collection of photographs linked to the history of the Banca Commerciale Italiana (COMIT), a credit institution that set up the Società Commerciale d’Oriente (COMOR) in Geneva in 1907, together with a group of Venetian entrepreneurs led by Giuseppe Volpi. Their aim was to promote the financing of plants and infrastructure such as railways, mines, electric power stations and shipping companies in the Near East.
COMOR moved its headquarters to Milan in 1912 but it had various offices it could count on in the Mediterranean basin, including an office in Istanbul, then Constantinople, managed by engineer Bernardino Nogara, a fiduciary of COMIT in the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, and a prominent figure in the history of the 20th century.
The photographic narrative begins in the Ottoman Empire of the early 20th century, and ends with the outbreak of the First World War. It is centred around the Nogara family, who followed the head of the family to Constantinople. All the photos published in this book come from the Bernardino Nogara Private Archives, a photographic collection with a value that extends far beyond an interest in the history of the bank. It is a revisiting of subjects that have until now mainly been known and studied only through the official photographs circulated by the Empire to show the West the modernity of Ottoman society. Intesa Sanpaolo has decided to exploit this remarkable visual heritage and make it available to everyone through the bank’s Culture and Historical Archives Project.