The photographers' Orient

Be it artistic, archaeological or ethnographic, photography accompanied travellers as of the mid-19th century. Apart from the well-known work by Gustave Le Gray and Maxime Du Camp, such personalities as Beniamino Facchinelli have recently been rediscovered thanks to new research. At the same time, the more commercial collections of the Bonfils and Zangaki dynasties of photographers are still extremely very precious, so as to understand better photographic techniques and the means for distributing photos.

Bisson and Welling’s journey to Egypt

The two albums coming from the Smith-Lesouëf collection and kept in the Department of Stamps and Photographs at the BnF include 119 prints of a trip to Egypt in 1869-1870 taken by the photographers Auguste Rosalie Bisson and Édouard Welling for Léon & Lévy.

Felix Bonfils (1831-1885)

Félix Bonfils and his wife Lydie (1837-1918) came from Saint Hippolyte du Fort in the Gard. As a binder, then a printer, and finally a photographer trained by Niépce de Saint Victor, Félix Bonfils stayed in Lebanon in 1860 during France’s military expedition.

Maxime du Camp (1822-1894)

Maxime Du Camp took photographs while travelling with Gustave Flaubert and for a book: Égypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie. Dessins photographiques recueillis pendant les années 1849, 1850 et 1851 (Gide & J. Baudry, 1852).

Charles Theodule Deveria (1831-1871)

The practice of photography for Devéria was closely linked to the documentation of excavations and the framing of his prints should be understood in this context.

Beniamino Facchinelli (1829-1895)

Recently rediscovered, the photographer Beniamino Facchinelli (1839-1895) took over a thousand pictures of a monumental and picturesque Cairo.

Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (1804-1892)

As an artist, scholar and early daguerreotypist, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey became renowned as a pioneer of photography a century and a half after his journey to the Middle East.

Albert Goupil (1840-1884)

These documents are the work of a mediocre amateur who barely mastered the techniques of photography, but was unconcerned by this, given that they were reserved for private use, with no intention of publishing or exhibiting them.

Gustave Le Gray (1820-1884)

Born in 1820 in the milieu of Parisian tradesmen, Le Gray soon abandoned his law studies, which his parents had desired, to devote himself to painting. In the studio of Paul Delaroche, he met two great future photographers, Charles Nègre and Henri Le Secq.

Louis Vignes (1831-1896)

During a journey, lasting from June 1859 to October 1862, which took him from the south of France to Lebanon, via Sicily, Louis Vignes took 52 negatives on small format paper, and made his own prints on salted paper. It is a personal, documentary series, but of very great quality.

M. Jusserand
Souvenirs d'Orient. 1908

The album of this amateur photographer, about whom all that is known is his name, contains 75 views of monuments and landscapes, especially in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine.

G. Lekegian
Collection of views of Egypt, including Cairo and the pyramids. 1880-1889

Based in Egypt, this commercial photographer was active between 1860 and 1890.

Zangaki et Abdullah frères
Album de 132 photos. 189.

This album brings together 132 photos of monuments taken by commercial photographers, such as the Greek Zangaki brothers, the Turkish Abdullah family or else the French Hippolyte Arnoux, based in Port Said.