Sphinx & Pyramids of Chefren and Mankaura, Giza
The New York Public Library has shared an incredible gallery of over 9,000 photographs and illustrations of the Middle East from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century. These include, books, albums and archival compilations.
Monuments of ancient Egypt and the Biblical world figured prominently in the early years of photography. French Academician François Arago (1786-1853) endorsed the new medium in 1839 claiming it would provide a labor-saving means “to copy the millions and millions of hieroglyphics which entirely cover the great monuments at Thebes, Memphis and Carnac, etc.” Immediately artist-travelers took chemicals, cameras, and photographic plates of metal, and later glass into the regions around the southeastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, to record the famous sights that had been known previously to Westerners only through the intervention of the artist’s hand.
In addition to early photographic pioneers Du Camp, Salzmann, Robertson & Beato, and Frith, the collection includes work by image providers catering to tourist travelers in the last third of the 19th century, such as Arnoux, A. Beato, Bonfils, Lekegian, Sébah, and Zangaki. The selection offers resources for exploring Western impressions of the Middle East in that era through the lens of practitioners of the new medium of photography, and in turn through the expectations, preferences, and assumptions of its consumers.
Below is a curated selection of 30 photographs of Egypt from 1870-1875. Enjoy!
2. Cairo: Tombs of the Mamelukes to the citadel
An Armenian woman in national costume poses for Prokudin-Gorskii on a hillside near Artvin (in present day Turkey),
Prokudin-Gorskii rides along on a handcar outside Petrozavodsk on the Murmansk railway along Lake Onega near Petrozavodsk in 1910.
Howard Carter, an English archaeologist, examining the opened sarcophagus of King Tut.
Albert Einstein’s matriculation certificate that he received at the age of 17, showing his final grades.
1887, a group of men loiter in an alley known as ‘Bandit’s Roost’ off Mulberry Street
The sight of Italian immigrant families in New York on Jersey Street, living in shacks could be a scene from the developing world today
1965: Stephen Hawking marries Jane Wilde
Fat Man (Nagasaki atomic bomb) being transported for bombing, 1945
The Statue of Liberty surrounded by scaffolding as workers complete the final stages in Paris. Circa 1885
Evacuating Saigon, April 30, 1975. An American evacuee punches away a South Vietnamese man for a place on the last chopper out of the US embassy.
Construction of the Statue of Liberty in 1884
Disneyland employee cafeteria in 1961
Thomas Jefferson at Mount Rushmore under construction, 1939
Lincoln Conspirators Execution, July 7th 1865