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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

Scope and Content of Collection

Spanning two centuries and roughly one hundred years, the collection of over 6,000 photographic images forms a visual record of the late years of the Ottoman Empire and the formation and early years of the Republic of Turkey. The collection focuses on cultural and urban images, mainly of Constantinople (Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, but other geographic areas, such as the Balkans, and other cities and towns within the empire such as Bursa and Smyrna (Izmir) are included, as are a few images from places such as Greece, Egypt, Jerusalem, India and China. The collection is supported by a small group of pamphlets and offprints regarding photography in the Ottoman Empire and by a small assemblage of photographic ephemera.

The first photographs of the Ottoman Empire were likely taken on February 8, 1840 by Goupil Fresquet in the harbor of Izmir. From this date forward the Ottoman Empire, and especially its magnificent capital, attracted a large number of photographers of both European and eastern origin. The voracious European appetite for images of the Ottoman Empire is evidenced by the fact that most of the present collection was acquired on the European market. The earliest photographs in the collection include Claude-Marie Ferrier's glass lantern slides and glass plate negatives of Istanbul and views of the Bosporus from the 1850s; images of Istanbul, Athens, Jerusalem, and Egypt and Ottoman portraits and "types", made in the 1850s by the Englishman James Robertson, chief engraver at the Imperial Ottoman Mint, alone and with his partner and brother-in-law Felice Beato; and the poitevin prints made after photographs taken by Pierre Trémaux during his 1853-1854 journey to the archaeological sites of Asia Minor.

Gigord collected thematically. Although the collection is arranged by format, his method of collecting is especially evident in the loose and single photographs as well as in the albums which, rather than being general compilations, tend to focus on specific subjects, time periods or geographic areas. Views and monuments of Istanbul and the Bosporus are copiously represented in the collection. In addition to the twelve joined panoramas of the city and environs there are also numerous general views of specific geographic areas and neighborhoods. Monuments frequently represented include mosques and churches such as the Süleymaniye mosque, the Sultan Ahmed or Blue Mosque, the Ortayköy mosque and the former mosque and church/mosque of Hagia Sophia. Palaces include the Topkapi Palace and Dolmabahçe Palace. Istanbul's Roman past is represented by views of the Hippodrome and its Serpent Column, Walled Obelisk and Obelisk of Theodosius, and by the Burnt Column and the Valens aqueduct; while the city's medieval Genoan history is represented by views of the Galata Tower.

The Bosporus strait, and the seas it joins – the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara – are extensively documented, as is the Golden Horn and its bridges, and especially the Galata Bridge. The Ottoman fortresses built to defend the Bosporus (Rumeli Hisari built by Mehmed II, and Anadolu Hisari built by Bayezid I) are frequently depicted. Life on the Bosporus and surrounding seas is portrayed in abundant views of boating, both for pleasure and transportation, fishing and fishermen, and by the waterfront residences in both humble villages and the yalis or villas of wealthy residents. Frequent depictions of steamers attest to the bustling international shipping and tourist industries.

The collection contains numerous photographs of Turkish "types", including occupational portraits as well as portraits of representatives of the many ethnic groups who comprised the greater Ottoman Empire. Costume is an enduring interest, beginning with James Robertson's rare hand-colored portraits of women and occupations. The "dame turque" is a prevalent theme. While the occupational portraits are often posed, there are also numerous genre and street scenes that include food and dry goods vendors, and small shops such as cobbler's stalls. Agricultural scenes and grain markets as well as the tobacco industry represent rural Turkey. While a great many of the people portrayed in the collection are identified by "type" or ethnicity rather than name, the collection does contain a good number of portraits of sultans, and named pashas, military leaders, dignitaries and the middle and upper class patrons of the numerous portrait studios found in the cities.

Beginning in the late nineteenth century there is an increased representation of historical events that continues into the early twentieth century. These range from state visits and ceremonies, to the opening of railways, and to events related to World War I such as the Battle of Gallipoli and the Caucasus Campaign, the occupation of Turkey by allied troops after the war, and the formation of the Republic of Turkey.

Over 165 known photographers, studios and publishers are represented in the collection, and the work of dozens of unknown photographers is also included. While a great many of the photographers are of European origin, prominent photographers of eastern origin include the ethnic Armenian Abdullah brothers, Pascal Sébah of Armenian and Syrian descent, and Ali Sami Aközer, grandson of Halil Kamil Pasha. Such photographers created images for both foreign and Ottoman consumption, including the sultans themselves. Studios bearing Greek and Armenian surnames are heavily represented among the cartes-de-visites, cabinet cards and other portraits in the collection. Among the other photographers included in the collection are: Nikolia Andreomenos; Apollon; Hippolyte Arnoux; Guillaume Berggren; Félix Bonfils; Ernest de Caranza; Jules Delbet; Roger Fenton; Claude-Marie Ferrier; Frank Mason Good; Gülmez Frères; V. Hissarlian; M. Iranian; Vassilaki (Basil/Basile) Kargoppoulo; Pow Kee; Gustave Le Gray; G. Lekegian; Alfred de Moustier; Félix Nadar; Christian Paier; Phébus Studio (Bogos Tarkulyan); James Robertson working alone or with his partner and brother-in-law Felice Beato; Alphonse Rubellin and Rubellin et Fils; Adolphe Saum; Sébah & Joaillier (successors to Pascal Sébah); Alex Svoboda; and Pierre Trémaux. Click here for a complete list of known photographers.

The collection includes photographic prints made in the most popular nineteenth-and early twentieth-century photographic media, as well as in a number of rare and early techniques. Photographic processes present in the collection include calotype, salted paper, albumen, collodion, and gelatin silver prints; photochroms, autochromes, collotypes, tintypes, and opaltypes. Also included are early poitevin prints (lithographs after photographs).

The photographs are found in various sizes and formats including loose and mounted prints, some from disbound albums; card-mounted photographs of various sizes including cartes-de-visite, cabinet cards and boudoir cards; stereographs; glass plate negatives; lantern slides; photomechanical and real photo postcards; and panoramas. There are sixty-four photograph albums in the collection.

Throughout the collection titles for individual photographs are taken from the negative, unless otherwise stated. Titles devised by the catalogers are in brackets. Titles that contain abbreviations or misspellings appear in their entirety or corrected form in the item level scope and contents note.

Arrangement note

The collection is arranged in 10 series:
Series I. Large format albums, 1852-1920;
Series II. Albums of various formats, 1870-1935;
Series III. Photographs on loose mounts, ca. 1850-1930, undated;
Series IV. Panoramas, 1854-1919;
Series V. Card mounted photographs, 1851-1909;
Series VI. Tintypes, glass formats and printing blocks, 1890-1900, undated;
Series VII. Lantern slides and glass plate negatives, 1850-1910;
Series VIII. Stereographs, 1850-1910, undated;
Series IX. Photojournalism and press photographs, 1904-1958, undated;
Series X. Documentation, 1850-1955, undated.

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