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Ca’ Foscari University of Venice – Nigra sum sed formosa.

Ca’ Foscari University of Venice – Nigra sum sed formosa. Religion and beauty in Christian Ethiopia.

First sizable Italian exhibition dedicated to one of the oldest Christian civilizations in Africa.

The show, presented as an organic and fascinating story,  revolves around a few historical personalities, including the celebrated Queen of Sheba – who was the inspiration for the famous verse Nigra sum sed Formosa (Latin for “I am black but comely”) in “Song of Songs” – the great kings Lalibala and Zar’ a Ya’qob; Venetian painter Nicolò Brancaleon, who according to documents was at the court of King Eskender towards the end of the 15th century.  

The show offers articles of extraordinary historical and artistic importance, precious and rarely shown evidence: icons, crosses, magic scrolls, illuminated codices, engravings, cartographic masterpieces – like Fra Mauro’s Mapamondo, rare books and models. Works and finds have been lent, often for the first time, by private collectors and museums, national and international.


The exhibition, with an impressive multimedia section, is curated by G. Barbieri, G. Fiaccadori and M. Di Salvo.

Open from 10am to 6pm and closed on Monday. Costs 7 € and 5 € discounted

Open until 10 May 2009

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