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Pierre de Gigord Collection of Photographs of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey, 1850-1958 (bulk 1853-1930)

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Gigord (Pierre de) Collection of Photographs of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey

Biographical/Historical Note

Pierre de Gigord, a French business man, is one of seven children born to Colonel François de Gigord and Anne Agnès Thérèse "Solange" d'Ussel. His father instilled an early love of travel in the young Gigord. In 1964 en route to a hitchhiking trip to India Gigord stopped first in Istanbul where an aunt, Mme. H. de Saint Peine, granddaughter of the founder of the Banque ottomane and régie des tabacs, introduced him to the city. Fascinated by the city, Gigord began to make yearly trips to the Bosporus which he financed by importing traditional Turkish crafts, such as jewelry and textiles, to France. In 1969 he founded Anastasia, a ready-to-wear folkloric-inspired line of clothing. He further expanded his business in 2002 with the opening of the Diwali boutiques specializing in jewelry and accessories from India.

In the 1970s Gigord's travels in the Middle East led him to become interested in the accounts of travel writers and painters who took Turkey and the Ottoman Empire as their subject, and he began to collect paintings, prints and books. Bridging Europe and Asia, Istanbul was for centuries considered the gateway between western Europe and the East. Although the Ottoman Empire had a long-standing relationship with Western Europe, the early visual imagery of Turkey was for the most part highly imaginary until the late eighteenth century publication of Ignatius Mourdgea d'Ohsson's multi-volume Tableau général de l'empire ottoman (1787-1820). Only a few decades later Louis Daguerre announced the invention of his eponymously named photography process (1839), and that same year a French expedition set out to record the east with this new technology. In 1980, struck by the "real" of photographic images, as opposed to the "imaginary" of paintings, Gigord began to collect postcards. He bought his first album of photographs of Turkey at auction in 1982, and over the next twelve years amassed substantial collections of both postcards and photographs.

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