Armenians and Armenian Photographers in the Ottoman Empire

Armenians and Armenian Photographers in the Ottoman Empire


Julia Grimes, research associate at the Getty analysis Institute, presents an amazing choice of pictures through the Pierre de Gigord Collection detailing Armenian life in the 19th-century Ottoman Empire, numerous through the studio of Armenian photographers Pascal Sebah as well as the Abdullah Freres.

Profiting from the continued generosity of French photograph collector Pierre de Gigord, the Getty analysis Institute (GRI) has put together a thorough assortment of pictures documenting the 19th-century Ottoman Empire, especially the region which we realize now as Turkey. Progressively more these photographs depict the Armenian community inside the kingdom, representing spiritual leaders, families, and people in complete cultural gown. Besides those residing in Constantinople russian mail order bride documentary (present-day Istanbul), the Ottoman capital and precise location of the major photographic studios, specific pictures additionally record information on life various other towns, including valuable views of these Armenian quarters.

J. Pascal Sebah (Armenian, 1823-1886), Armenian Patriarch, ca. 1880. Los Angeles, Getty Analysis Institute (96.R.14, Box 80)

J. Pascal Sebah (Armenian, 1823-1886), Armenian Family, ca. 1880. L . A ., Getty Analysis Institute (96.R.14, Box 80)

Photographie Tchamlidjian Studio (Armenian, active ca. 1880), Group of Armenian Men in Checkered Jackets, 1883. L . A ., Getty Analysis Institute (96.R.14, Box 69)

Guillaume Berggren (Swedish, 1835-1920), Entry into the principal Street of Pera, ca. 1870. Los Angeles, Getty Analysis Institute (2008.R.3, No. 3547)

Possibly the many fascinating facet of the Gigord collection could be the wide range of pictures taken by Armenian photographers. As a result of the regular work of Armenians as chemists, goldsmiths, and pharmacists, numerous possessed the abilities needed for photography, in specific a comprehensive understanding of the chemical processes found in development. Some of the principal studios in Constantinople were owned and operated by photographers of Armenian descent during the late-nineteenth century. Pascal Sebah, as an example, opened his “El Chark” studio in 1857, and also by 1873 had accomplished success that is such their elegant, crisply step-by-step portraits he exposed an additional branch in Cairo, Egypt. Because of the period of their death thirteen years later on, their title had become similar to studio photography in Constantinople into the level that their studio stayed active plus the new handling partner, Polycarpe Joaillier, changed its title to “Sebah and Joaillier.” The business enterprise proceeded to prosper and attain renown, even incorporating Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany to its selection of clients in 1889 during their stop by at Constantinople.

A portrait of two Armenian men in full dress taken circa 1875 reveals Sebah’s mastery of both the technical facets of photography and its own usage as a creative medium. The men’s formal poses showcase their wide pants, scarves, and hats, areas of traditional Armenian costume that could have immediately triggered recognition among watchers. Their expressions match the dignity of the position. It is a studio that is posed, likely staged by Sebah and their assistants to portray these males as being a “type,” or as representatives regarding the Armenian ethnic team to which he additionally belonged. The control over tonalities, or perhaps the way where the color that is sepia of photograph differs from light to dark, expressing aspects of lighting and shadow, is probably the characteristics which many plainly signals Sebah’s ability as a musician.

J. Pascal Sebah (Armenian, 1823-1886), Armenian Men, ca. 1875. Los Angeles, Getty Analysis Institute (96.R.14, Box 77)

comparable control over structure and tonality is visible in Sebah’s record, Les costumes populaires de la Turquie en 1873, commissioned by Ottoman diplomat, musician, and creator of Istanbul’s Academy of Fine Arts, Osman Hamdi Bey. In looking for photographer to depict the individuals associated with the Ottoman Empire for the 1873 Global Exposition in Vienna, Osman Hamdi Bey decided to go with Sebah as a result of the elegance that is refined of design. The image of a bride that is armenian the main figure in Plate V, captures this quality aided by the way when the dangling tassels, necklace, and gold pattern of this bride’s costume catch the light, contrasting because of the delicate lace of her veil.

J. Pascal Sebah (Armenian, 1823-1886), Constantinople: Armenian Bride. From Osman Hamdi Bey (Turkish, 1842-1910), Les costumes populaires de la Turquie en 1873: ouvrage publie sous le patronage de la Commission imperiale ottomane pour l’Exposition universelle de Vienne. Los Angeles, Getty Analysis Institute (96.R.14, Box 139)

The standards that are high by Pascal Sebah stayed a hallmark of their studio, even with their death. The 1894 Sebah and Joaillier image associated with the Armenian Quarter in Brousse, found throughout the water of Marmara from Istanbul, for example, presents a unique view taken on a hill. Such as the image of this two Armenian males, the mastery of tonalities for which Sebah’s studio ended up being understood is once more on display. The bright midday sunlight posed a challenge, because it could easily clean the details out of gestures, faces, and things, nevertheless the professional professional photographer deftly dealt with this particular problem by positioning the tiny youngster off to the right associated with road under the final consecutively of woods, permitting the shadows to pay for the glare. Near examination reveals that all individual into the image happens to be put in the shade, either of this woods or for the two-story structures regarding the other part for the road.

Sebah & Joaillier Studio (Armenian, active 1890-1940s), Brousse: Armenian Quarter, 1894. L . A ., Getty Analysis Institute (96.R.14, Box 70)

The “Abdullah Freres” studio, run by three brothers of Armenian lineage, exposed in 1858 and quickly became therefore honored for the skills that are technical artistry that simply 5 years later on the brothers were called royal photographers into the Ottoman Sultan. In 1867, they exhibited their 220 cm-long panorama of Constantinople at the next Overseas Exposition held in Paris, going beyond the studio to show their equal cap cap ability as landscape photographers internationally. They hosted a clientele that is distinguished these years, photographing Edward, the Prince of Wales, during his trip to Turkey, and Eugenie, the Empress of France. By 1886, their popularity had spread in terms of Egypt, as well as the non-public request regarding the Khedive (Viceroy) here, they even exposed a branch in Cairo which lasted when it comes to decade that is next. Interestingly sufficient, their Constantinople studio merged with compared to Pascal Sebah whenever Abdullah Freres offered it to Sebah and Joaillier in 1900.

The Abdullah Freres excelled at catching landscapes, “types,” and scenes of everyday life when you look at the major metropolises of this Ottoman Empire. Their picture associated with Galata Bridge, the connection spanning the Golden Horn in Constantinople and something associated with the city’s principal landmarks, is remarkable because of its view for the Old City. As minarets soar into the distance, the blurred pictures of ships in the middle ground suggest a bustling site of business, an metropolitan landscape in which the conventional suits the current in powerful patterns of trade.

Abdullah Freres Studio (Armenian, active 1850s-1900), Galata Bridge. From Abdullah Freres, O.H. Views, 1875-1880, 1884. Los Angeles, Getty Analysis Institute (96.R.14, A10)

a couple of five studio photographs depicting a porter and diverse forms of road vendors stages an interchange that is similar for even though men’s professions are old-fashioned, these are generally now being represented utilising the modern medium and conventions of photography, including backdrops, studio illumination, and carefully choreographed poses.

Sebah & Joaillier Studio (Armenian, active 1890-1940s), Porter and Street Vendors. From Abdullah Freres, O.H. Views, 1875-1880, 1884. Los Angeles, Getty Analysis Institute (96.R.14, A10)

Less rigorously staged, yet saturated in power, could be the Abdullah Freres image of the fire brigade in Constantinople. As a result of age and proximity of numerous structures, combined with the substantial usage of wood timbers in construction, the town lived under constant danger of fire, and firefighters therefore held a substantial part in the city. By dedicating a record album web web page for them especially, the Abdullah Freres respected their importance to life that is civic simultaneously showing the preparedness and modernity of Constantinople’s municipal services.

Abdullah Freres Studio (Armenian, active 1850s-1900), Fire Brigade. From Turquie, 1880. L . A ., Getty Analysis Institute (96.R.14, A25)

These brief examples expose just a portion regarding the degree of Armenian participation in photography through the century that is late-nineteenth. There have been lots of other Armenians working not just in Ottoman lands however in Eastern Europe and Central Asia whose legacy nevertheless continues to be to be explored. Once the quantity of pictures through the Gigord Collection obtainable in the Getty’s electronic collections is growing, it really is our hope that information regarding this remarkable link that is historical the Armenian community and photography for the reason that period becomes more commonly available, and therefore fresh discoveries will still be made. The real history of photography is just a reasonably brand new discipline, and also this chapter remains being written.

Julia Grimes is doing her Ph.D. in Chinese contemporary and modern art at the University of Ca, Los Angeles. She’s got been research associate during the Getty analysis Institute since 2010.

Explore more photographs from the Pierre Gigord collection over during the Getty analysis Institute web web web site. There are many more than one hundred pictures within their Open Content Program and much more than 30 records available through their “Rosetta” database ( simply simply click on website website link in top corner that is right obtain access to records).

This post is component of y our Curator’s solution show, a month-to-month function consisting of the visitor article from the curator of a work or band of works in another of their “open” electronic collections. The show is undertaken together with OpenGLAM making feasible through money through the European Union’s DM2E project.

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