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Jacques-Philippe Potteau Portraits of Algerian Soldiers for the Collection anthropologique du Muséum de Paris, 1863

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Potteau (Jacques-Philippe) Portraits of Algerian Soldiers

Scope and Content of Collection

The 20 frontal and profile photographic portraits of ten Algerian soldiers who visited Paris in 1863 were taken by Philippe-Jacques Potteau as part of his larger anthropological project for the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle, known as the Collection anthropologique du Muséum de Paris (1855-1869). Seven pairs of photographs are of soldiers from the 3rd Regiment of Algerian Tirailleurs, an infantry corps, and three pairs depict soldiers from the 2nd and 3rd Regiments of Algerian Spahis, or light cavalry units.

Handwritten on the mounts below the albumen photographs is data related to the specific sitter including, variously, name (used in this finding aid as the photograph's title), age (or birth date), rank or occupation, place of birth and ethnic background. The information is not uniformly present, suggesting a less than exacting documentation process, and the data for the Algerian soldiers is, for the most part, less complete than that found on the portraits of Potteau's more illustrious sitters. Nevertheless, these portraits with their annotated mounts are important examples of early French colonial ethnography.

The photographs are dated on their mounts: Phot. en 1863. The photographs were almost certainly printed before 1872 (when Potteau gave his negatives to the Muséum de Paris for safekeeping), as they present his printing style, derived from Gustave Le Gray, of cutting the corners of the prints on the diagonal.

Arrangement

Arranged in a single series:
Series I: Jacques-Philippe Potteau Portraits of Algerian Soldiers for the Collection anthropologique du Muséum de Paris, 1863.




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