Nicolò Manucci, the Marco Polo of India

29 April – 26 November 2023

A Venetian at the 17th-century Mughal Court

Curatorship Antonio Martinelli, Merco Moneta

Exhibition design Daniela Ferretti

Scientific consulting Piero Falchetta

From 29 April to 26 November 2023, Fondazione dell'Albero d'Oro presents Nicolò Manucci, the Marco Polo of India. A Venetian at the 17th-century Mughal Court, an exhibition project dedicated to the life and travels of Nicolò Manucci (1638-1720), a Venetian of humble origins who, driven by a desire to explore the world, embarked in Venice in November 1653 on his way to the East, hiding in the hold of a tartan, never to return.

To recount the human adventure and atypical voyage of Nicolò Manucci, the manuscripts that make up the original version of the Storia do Mogor and their subsequent transcriptions, the Libro Nero and Libro Rosso, respectively kept at the State Library in Berlin, the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, will be exceptionally brought together and exhibited for the first time at Palazzo Vendramin Grimani.

The exhibition intends to retrace the most salient stages in the life of the Venetian traveller through an itinerary that combines artefacts and decorative elements from different epochs with a selection of reproductions and digital installations of the manuscripts that will allow visitors to discover all the pages of the texts and the richness of the colours and illustrations of a vanished world. The aim is thus to offer the gaze of a privileged witness to the history and cultural richness of Mughal India.

Manuscripts and original documents on display at Palazzo Vendramin Grimani

On the occasion of the exhibition Nicolò Manucci, the Marco Polo of India. A Venetian at the 17th-century Mughal Court, Fondazione dell'Albero d'Oro in collaboration with the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice, the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin is exhibiting for the first time at Palazzo Vendramin Grimani the precious evidence of the traveller's life.

The corpus of Nicolò Manucci's legacy, consisting of the Red Book and the Black Book, the two manuscripts that make up the original version of the Storia del Mogol and their subsequent transcriptions, will be exhibited in the rooms on the first piano nobile of Palazzo Vendramin Grimani and will be available for consultation thanks to digital media.

Visitors will not only be able to learn about the most important aspects of this extraordinary human and literary story along the exhibition route, but will also be able to take a close look at all the papers that make up the great cultural legacy handed down by a man who was neither a scholar nor a man of letters, but who was nevertheless endowed with such intelligence, curiosity and tenacity that he did not lose heart in the face of the gigantic task he had set himself. Manucci set out to write the history of the immense Mughal empire, recounting it in its various political, military, religious, social and cultural aspects. Reserving within it, scattered between the pages, a few moments and episodes of his autobiography.