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Ken and Jenny Jacobson Orientalist Photography collection, 1788-1960,

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Jacobson (Ken and Jenny) collection

Scope and Content of Collection

The Ken and Jenny Jacobson Orientalist Photography collection comprises over 4,500 photographic images of the Middle East and North Africa that were amassed by the Jacobsons over a span of more than thirty years. The majority of the images in the collection were created between 1850 and 1920 and record a period when the "Orient," as the Middle East was commonly called, exerted a compelling allure over western viewers, travelers, scholars and entrepreneurs alike. Works by over 164 different photographers and studios present an overwhelmingly Western vision of and response to Egypt, the Maghreb and the Levant. The Jacobsons chose the photographs they collected through a narrow formalist art historical lens, one which judges the images against the locales, themes and styles of Orientalist painting. Yet it is an ideal that photography can never quite measure up to. As Ken Jacobson laments, "The constraints of photography meant that it rarely depicted a scene in quite the same manner as the more lavish paintings" (Jacobson p. 20).

Jacobson describes the geographical area covered by the collection as being those countries and areas ringing the southern and eastern Mediterranean Sea, extending eastward from Morocco to the area once defined as Syria and Arabia. Images from modern day Iran and Iraq are largely absent in the collection. Jacobson attributes this absence to the "paucity of early photography" from these regions (Jacobson p. 12). This paucity is in fact a reflection of the emphasis Jacobson places on Western photographers working in the Orient, one which largely omits native born photographers, whether they be professional or amateur practitioners, and one which is further informed by his sourcing of images largely from within Great Britain and the European continent.

As Jacobson notes, "The field of Orientalism was originally understood to be the study of the cultures, past and present in this geographically rather ill-defined Orient" (Jacobson p. 12). Although Western scholars, as well as the larger public, had a long held interest in the East, Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798 and his establishment of the Institut d'Éypte in Cairo set off a mounting wave of popular interest across Europe that crested in the widespread phenomenon of Egyptomania. In the early nineteenth century explorers' accounts, Jean François Champollion's 1822 translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics, the discovery and excavation of new archaeological sites, the erection of the Obelisk of Luxor in Paris's place de la Concorde in 1836, and the removal of enormous statues like the seven-ton head of Ramses II to England, all served as inspiration for architects, poets and painters who worked in what became known as the Orientalist style.

In late 1839, less than three months after the invention of the daguerreotype was announced, Horace Vernet made a daguerreotype of the exterior of the harem of Mohammed Ali in Alexandria. Indeed, in his introduction of Daguerre's invention at a joint meeting of the French Académie des sciences and the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Dominique François Arago had noted that the new medium of photography could be a useful documentary and reprographic tool for Egyptologists and Orientalists, further citing its relative portability and the fact that the intense light of Egypt and the Middle East would facilitate the fledgling photographic process and enhance the resulting images. None of Vernet's original daguerreotypes are known to exist. Vernet's image of the harem, represented by an engraving after his daguerreotype, is the earliest photographically derived image in the Jacobson collection. The earliest surviving photographs of the Middle East are daguerreotypes made by amateur artist and Islamic architecture specialist, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, who traveled in the Middle East between 1842 and 1845. Girault de Prangey's work is represented in the collection by his images of the façade of Church of St. Sepulchre, likely taken in 1844, and of the Alay Köskü and Bab-I Ali (Procession Pavilion and Sublime Porte) on the grounds of the Topkapi Palace from 1843.

Thus, beginning with these early images, photography was joined to Orientalism, and its practitioners went on to produce an extensive body of imagery that adopted and expanded Orientalist tropes. As the Middle East became increasingly open and accessible to the West due to the opening of the lands that had long been controlled by the now-waning Ottoman Empire, photographers joined the ranks of painters, journalists, writers, and travelers living in or visiting the region. Throughout the nineteenth century photographers recording significant events in the Middle East, such as James Robertson's and Roger Fenton's photographs of the Crimean War (1854-1856) which were translated into engravings for the illustrated weekly press, kept public interest in the "Orient" alive. In 1869, another extensively documented event, the opening of the Suez Canal, represented in the Jacobson collection by the work of German photographer W. Hammerschmidt, also made personal travel in the area more feasible.

While the Jacobson collection does not contain any of Fenton's Crimea images, a view of the photography van that he used in this venture is present. Published in an 1855 issue of the Illustrated London News, it brought home to a Western audience some of the actuality of photographing in the Middle East. Yet, as travel became easier as the century progressed, so did the taking of photographs. As many more members of this viewing public were able to include the Middle East and the Holy Land in their "grand tours," they increasingly had the option to not only purchase inexpensive photographs from the many studios that catered to tourists, but if they so chose they could use their own portable cameras to record their trips, and have their film developed by these same studios or when they arrived back home.

By the act of taking their own pictures amateur photographers adapted and reinforced existing Orientalist tropes, further entrenching them in popular culture and layering them upon already established realms of representation. Such amateur travel photography is amply present in the collection, especially among the loose photographs and the photograph albums, some of which combine professional and amateur images. Often the trope professionals used of including local figures in their photographs is replaced by one that sites the traveler within the exotic places they visit, their presence thereby establishing a level of personal dominion over the "Orient." An extreme example of such an act of "claiming" can be found in an image from the Egypt album of 1905 in which a male tourist lies in a stone sarcophagus, with his hands folded over his chest, eyes closed and hat on head, while two Egyptian men, one of whom holds the tourist's coat, cloak and walking stick, look down at him from behind the sarcophagus.

The collection is arranged by photographic format into four series. Series I contains over 1,850 loose photographs. Works by more than 115 known photographers and studios, as well as almost 400 photographs by unknown photographers are present here. Named photographers range from well-known photographers and studios, to those who are little-known, and to amateur photographers, about whom little, if any, biographical information is available. Many of the photographers represented in this series are represented in subsequent series of the collection, especially Series II Card photographs, glass and cased images and Series III Albums.

Photographers and studios with twenty or more images present in this series include Alary & Geiser (with images also made by Jean-Baptiste Alary and Jean Geiser respectively) and Prod'hom et fils in Algeria; the Zangaki brothers, Hippolyte Arnoux, Antonio Beato, Émile Béchard, W. Hammerschmidt and G. Lékégian in Egypt; and Abdullah frères and Guillaume Berggren in Turkey. Sébah & Joillier (also Pascal Sébah and Jean (J.-P.) Sébah), one of the most prolific nineteenth-century studios in the Middle East, was also based initially in Constantinople, and later opened an establishment in Cairo. Félix Bonfils and Tancrède Dumas were both based in Beirut, Lebanon, but photographed throughout the Middle East. Other photographers who traveled to the Middle East include the English photographers Francis Bedford, who served as the photographer to the young Prince of Wales's tour of the east in 1862; and Frank Mason Good, who made four tours of the Middle East in the 1860s and 1870s, and had much of his work published by Frances Frith, whose work is also represented in the series.

Garrigues operated a studio in Tunis from the 1870s through the first decade of the twentieth-century. The pictorialist photographers Lehnert & Landrock began operating in Tunis just as the Garrigues studio was winding down, and in fact may have taken over their premises. Lehnert & Landrock photographed throughout North Africa, producing a body of artistic views and images best described as late romantic Orientalism.

Also found in this series are examples of scarce paper photographic prints made by photographers practicing in the 1850s. Albumen prints include Gustave de Beaucorps's portrait of a young Algerian odalisque reclining on a couch; Charles Marville's portrait of an Algerian man reclining with a hookah; and eight views of Egypt and Istanbul by Robertson & Beato. Rare salted paper prints included four views of Jerusalem by Auguste Salzmann (1854) and two of Egyptian subjects by Ernest Benecke: a portrait of two Egyptian women and a group portrait of Sheikh Mokba posed with members of his tribe (approximately 1852). Of particular note are two copies of Pierre Trémaux's Fille du Dar-four (calotype and lithograph after the calotype) from his Voyage au Soudan Oriental.

William Morris Grundy, Charles Nègres and amateur photographer Frank-François-Genès Chauvaissaigne are among the early photographers who made portraits of themselves in "Orientalist costume." Such Orientalist studies were a common trope among English and French photographers working in Europe. Other early examples of this genre include Hill & Adamson's portrait of 'Lane' in Orientalist costume (1843-1847, printed 1910) and two images of a female model from Roger Fenton's Orientalist Suite (1858). Grundy's hand-colored stereoscopic orientalist studies in Series II are also from this period. From a slightly later date is Lewis Carroll's (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) portrait of the child Ethel Hatch dressed in Turkish costume (1877). Among the photographs explicitly produced as artists' studies, a group of three photographs made by the circle of Rudolf Carl Huber, a group of Austrian painters working in Cairo between 1875 and 1876, stand out.

Chauvaissaigne and Carroll are among the known amateur photographers represented in the collection. Many of the images by both named and unidentified amateurs are tourist shots depicting sites most frequently visited, as well as images of the visitors themselves at the sites or "traveling" on camel back. Less typical are a group of 22 salted paper views of Egypt made around 1900 that seem to be an experimental process by an unidentified amateur photographer. These salted paper prints made at such a late date provide an excellent contrast to the group of twelve photographs of Cairo by A. Schranz, the first professional photographer of note based in Egypt, who established a studio in Cairo between 1849 and 1854. Interestingly, Schranz appears to have been the painter Antonio Schranz, who came from a family of German artists who settled in Malta (his brother Joseph was known as an Orientalist painter).

The photographic prints found in this series were produced in the mediums common to the period and include salted paper, albumen, calotype and gelatin silver prints. A handful of photocroms are also present. More unusual are three silk doilies from Egypt with color genre scenes printed on their centers. Daguerreotypes reproduced in other mediums, such as an engraving after a Horace Vernet's 1839 daguerreotype view of the harem of Mohammed Ali in Alexandria, which appeared in N. P. Lerebours, Excursions Daguerrienne are also present here. Similarly, Charles Nègre's photogravures after Louis Vigne's albumen prints taken during the du Duc de Luynes's exploration of the Dead Sea and published in Voyage d'exploration à la mer Morte, à Petra, et sur la rive gauche du Jourdain (1864/1874) are also included.

A small amount of ephemera is found at the end of the series. Photographer-related items include Maxime Du Camp's Catalogue des vues d'Orient listing his photographs available in 1852, and a view of the photography van that Roger Fenton used during the Crimean War, which was clipped from an 1855 issue of the Illustrated London News. From a much later date comes an advertisement for a Pathé-Baby film projector from a 1923 issue of L'Illustration. Projected onto the screen in the illustration is an image of palms arching over a camel and rider. Related to the photographic documentation of the Suez Canal in 1869 is a small group of ephemera (invitations and articles) surrounding its opening.

Card photographs and glass and cased images comprise Series II. Included are cartes-de-visite; cabinet cards; paper and glass stereographs; glass lantern slides and daguerreotypes and ambrotypes.

Present here are 366 loose cartes-de-visite taken by 43 known photographers working mostly in the 1860s and 1870s. The bulk of the cartes-de-visite are portraits, occasionally of paying sitters, but most frequently depicting ethnic types. The sitters are predominately Egyptian, with some Algerian and Moroccan people present. Photographers and studios most prominently represented include Emile Béchard; Délíe and Béchard; Ermé Désiré; Otto Schoefft and Schier & Schoefft; and a photographer working in Morocco who has tentatively been identified as A. Chouffly. Also present is a group of 63 ethnic types made by an unknown photographer, many of which are images pirated from Béchard, among other photographers.

Views presented in the carte-de-visite format include photographs by Abdullah frères; Ermé Désiré; W. Hammerschmidt; A. Sarrault; and Schier & Schoefft. Most of these images were made in the 1860s. Twenty cabinet card portraits of Algerians and Egyptians by a variety of photographers, but with the bulk being by Otto Scheofft, are contained in the series.

The series also includes approximately 368 paper stereographs, taken by an array of photographers over a span of almost 70 years. Included are sets and partial sets as well as stereographs collected individually.

Stereographs gained wide public attention with T. R. Williams's views of the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the Crystal Palace, London, and their ensuing popularity is evident in the number of stereographs from the 1850s present in this collection. Indeed, eight views of the Crystal Palace interiors from the 1850s, mostly showing the Egyptian Hall and Court, by as-yet-unidentified photographers (one is by Philip Henry Delamotte), are among the stereographs in this series. Two hand-colored tissue stereographs of Cairo by an unknown photographer are perhaps the earliest stereographs present in the collection. Other 1850s stereographs of note include three hand-colored images by William Morris Grundy; two hand-colored cards by Furne fils & H. Tournier; and a delicately hand-tinted stereograph of a woman reclining on a divan by Louis-Camille d'Olivier; all displaying staged Orientalist themes. Félix Jacques-Antoine Moulin is represented by eight cards of Algerian scenes, one of which is hand-colored; and Jean-Baptiste Antoine Alary by five views of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

There are 34 stereographs by Francis Frith from the 1850s, the bulk of which belong to his various series, including Views in Egypt and Nubia; Views in Egypt. Second Series – Cairo; Views in the Peninsula of Sinai. Second Series; and Views in the Holy Land. Although the collection does not include any complete sets of Frith's stereographic series, it should be noted that his practice of issuing photographs in series is a precedent for the preponderance of stereographic series produced by later organizations and publishers. A more unusual example of a stereographic series is found in Sargent James McDonald's forty-card set, Ordinance Survey of Sinai, which is the result of his survey of Sinai undertaken for the Royal Engineers in 1869. Like many of the photographers whose work is present in this series, McDonald also made photographs using larger, non-stereoscopic cameras.

From the 1890s through the first half of the twentieth-century commercial publishers such as Keystone View Company and Underwood & Underwood published vast numbers of stereographs that could be purchased individually or in sets, usually of 100 cards, which became increasingly didactic in purpose with lengthy descriptions, often keyed to school or bible lessons, printed on their versos. Found in this series are Keystone View Company's sets Egypt through the Stereoscope and Palestine (both 1905); and Underwood & Underwood's Bethlehem and Jordan through the Stereoscope, Jerusalem through the Stereoscope and Egypt through the Stereoscope, with an accompanying book of the same title (1890-1908).

Glass materials in the series includes a small group of glass stereographs. Seven albumen glass stereographs by Francis Frith and one by Léon et Lévy, were made in the 1850s. Twentieth-century glass stereographs include a group of eight tinted harem scenes created by an unknown photographer in the 1920s. Two groups of glass lantern slides are also present. A group of 15 images of Morocco were taken by George Washington Wilson in the 1870s, while 11 lantern slides by an unknown photographer depict views in the Holy Land (Palestine, Israel and Jerusalem) in 1910.

Cased images include two daguerreotypes by Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey. One is an 1843 view of the Procession Pavilion and the Sublime Porte on the edge of the grounds of the Topkapi Palace in Instanbul, and the other, showing the facade of the Church of St. Sepulchre, Jerusalem, was taken around 1844 (both are lacking their cases). These daguerreotypes are the earliest photographically derived images in the collection. Also included here are two cased ambrotypes of soldiers by unknown photographers dating to the 1850s.

Series III comprises 13 photograph albums ranging in date from the 1860s to 1960, with Africa and the Holy Land being the most heavily represented geographic areas.

Present are three carte-de-visite albums from the 1860s: two albums depicting Algeria and Algerians contain photographs by Alary & Geiser and Claude-Joseph Portier respectively. The album covering Egyptian subjects contains photographs possibly by Schier & Schoefft, as well as a few images by W. Hammerschmidt and other photographers.

Albums devoted solely or partially to Egypt predominate here. In addition to the carte-de-visite album mentioned above, other albums are compiled of views by various photographers such as G. Lékégian, P. Perdis, Adelphoi Zangaki and Frank Mason Good. A two-volume set of albums was photographed by an unknown tourist around 1910. Another album is devoted to Luigi Fiorello's documentation of the destruction caused by the bombardment of Alexandria by the British fleet in 1882.

Palestine, Syria and the Holy Land are represented in two albums. The Holy Land and Egypt contains photographs by Frank Mason Good, while Palestine & Syria comprises photographs by Maison Bonfils and Sulaymân Al-Hakim.

Views of other African locales are found in Africa Speaks to You with These 100 Pictures, which contains views of Eritrea and its peoples made by Fotocelere Coloniale; and in the so-called Missionary Album. Compiled (and presumably taken) by a missionary known only as S. Morris, the album contains images from North Africa, the Canary Islands and South Africa.

An untitled album of reference or study photographs compiled between 1869 and 1890, by the Scottish artist and illustrator, William Simpson, is wide-ranging in its geographical scope. Of particular pertinence to the present collection are a number of studies of models for Orientalist scenes; views of Algeria and Algerians; and four sketches by Simpson of Algerian scenes.

Lastly, the travel diary kept by Sir Peter Christopher Allen, former director of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), during his 1960 trip to the Soviet Union, contains numerous color views of the mosques and tombs of Samarqand and Bukhoro in Uzbekistan.

Series IV contains ten photographically illustrated books published between 1848 and 1930. The dates of the individual images found within them were taken are included, if known. Seven of these publications are Christian texts or describe the Christian Holy Land through text and photographs.

Two titles, Tristan's Scenes in Egypt and Keith's Evidence of the Truth of the Christian Religion contain illustrations (photographic and otherwise) by a variety of makers. For the remainder of the titles the author and the photographer are one and the same.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged in four series:
Series I. Loose photographs, 1788-1859;
Series II. Card photographs, glass and cased images, 1850-1910;
Series III. Albums, 1860-1960;
Series IV: Books, 1848-1930.




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