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The origins and the first Biennials

Deliberated by the Municipality of Venice on April 19, 1893, to celebrate the silver wedding of King Umberto and Margherita di Savoia, the first national biennial art exhibition was inaugurated two years after April 30, 1895. A special statute was drawn up which provided for the invitation to the major Italian and foreign artists, leaving space also for the works of uninvited Italian painters and sculptors; each artist could participate with a maximum of two works never exhibited in the national territory.

The building that hosted the first edition was erected in a very short time in the public gardens of Castello and the royals of Savoy took part in its inauguration; the number of visitors to the first International Art Exhibition in the city of Venice was more than 200 thousand. Many prizes and awards but the work that caused the greatest stir, for the topic considered rough (a dying man surrounded by the bodies of naked women) was the Supreme conference of Giacomo Grosso, rewarded by a popular referendum.

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