Case of 79 original 19th century silver gelatin photographs of the Middle East mounted on cardstock, primarily views of the Holy Land, the vast majority by Félix Bonfils, with thirteen by the firm of Sébah & Joaillier, signatures and captions incised in the plate of most of the photographs, with sites depicted including the Mosque of Omar, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Ecce Homo, the Tombs of the Kings, the Monastery of St. Saviour, King David's Tomb on Mount Zion, the Golden Gate, Jaffa Gate, and the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, villagers in Jordan, and views of the Bosphorus and Istanbul. Some scattered staining, several with major foxing, slight bowing or warping, overall very good condition. Image sizes 8 1/2 x 11 inches, mounted sizes 16 x 13 inches. Loose photographs, housed in a lidded case with embossed lid, wear and scuffing to case especially to extremities and corners. N.p. (Istanbul) n.d. (circa 1870s-1890s).
Félix Bonfils was a French photographer and writer active in the Middle East. He moved his family to Beirut in 1867 and opened a photographic studio called Maison Bonfils later renamed F. Bonfils et Cie. During his lifetime, he produced thousands of photographs of the Middle East, often purchased by tourists travelling abroad as souvenirs. Jean Pascal Sébah was the son of photographer Pascal Sébah, and continued his father's work by joining the family business in 1888 after his father passed away. He partnered with photographer Policarpe Joaillier, and as the partnership of Sébah & Joaillier, operated the most prestigious photography studio in Constantinople for many decades, well into the 20th century. In 1893, Sultan Abdulhamid II sponsored the production of fifty-one photographic albums representing the span of the Ottoman Empire, with two of the volumes being the responsibility of Sébah & Joaillier. Book ID: 48515