Armenians and Armenian Photographers in the Ottoman Empire

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Armenians and Armenian Photographers in the Ottoman Empire


Julia Grimes, research associate in the Getty analysis Institute, presents a remarkable variety 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 together with Abdullah Freres.

Profiting from the continued generosity of French photograph collector Pierre de Gigord, the Getty analysis Institute (GRI) has put together a comprehensive number of images documenting the 19th-century Ottoman Empire, particularly the region which we understand now as Turkey. An increasing number of these photographs depict the Armenian community inside the kingdom, representing spiritual leaders, families, and people in complete dress that is ethnic. Besides those surviving in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), the Ottoman money and located area of the major photographic studios, particular pictures additionally record information on life various other towns and cities, including valuable views of these Armenian quarters.

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

J. Pascal Sebah (Armenian, 1823-1886), Armenian Family, ca. 1880. Los Angeles, 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 towards the principal Street of Pera, ca. 1870. Los Angeles, Getty Analysis Institute (2008.R.3, No. 3547)

Probably the many aspect that is fascinating of Gigord collection may be the amount of pictures taken by Armenian photographers. Because of the employment that is frequent of as chemists, goldsmiths, and pharmacists, numerous possessed the relevant skills needed for photography, in specific an intensive familiarity with the chemical processes found in development. Throughout the late-nineteenth century, a number of the principal studios in Constantinople had been owned and operated by photographers of Armenian lineage. 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 which he started an extra 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 towards the degree that their studio stayed active in addition to managing that is new, Polycarpe Joaillier, changed its name to “Sebah and Joaillier.” The business enterprise proceeded to prosper and attain renown, even incorporating Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany to its listing of clients in 1889 during their trip to Constantinople.

A portrait of two Armenian guys in complete dress taken circa 1875 reveals Sebah’s mastery of both the technical facets of photography as well as its usage as a medium that is artistic. The men’s formal poses showcase their wide pants, scarves, and hats, components of old-fashioned Armenian costume that will have instantly triggered recognition among watchers. Their expressions match the dignity of these position. This is certainly a posed studio picture, likely staged by Sebah and their assistants to portray these males as a “type,” or as representatives regarding the Armenian ethnic team to which he additionally belonged. The control of tonalities, or the way where the color that is sepia of photograph varies from light to dark, expressing regions of lighting and shadow, is amongst the characteristics which many plainly signals Sebah’s ability as an russian mail order wives musician.

J. Pascal Sebah (Armenian, 1823-1886), Armenian Men, ca. 1875. L . A ., 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 a professional photographer to depict the individuals for the Ottoman Empire when it comes to 1873 Global Exposition in Vienna, Osman Hamdi Bey decided on Sebah as a result of refined beauty of their design. The image of a Armenian bride, the main figure in Plate V, captures this quality aided by the way where the dangling tassels, necklace, and gold pattern associated with bride’s costume catch the light, contrasting with all 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 le that is sous 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 remained a hallmark of his studio, even with their death. The 1894 Sebah and Joaillier image of this quarter that is armenian Brousse, situated throughout the water of Marmara from Istanbul, by way of example, presents a unique view taken on a hill. Such as the image regarding the two Armenian guys, the mastery of tonalities for which Sebah’s studio had been understood is once more on display. The bright midday sunlight posed a challenge, because it could easily clean out of the details of gestures, faces, and items, nevertheless the professional photographer deftly dealt with this specific problem by positioning the little youngster off to the right for the road under the final in a line of woods, enabling the shadows to pay for the glare. Near examination reveals that all individual into the image happens to be positioned in the shade, either of this woods or associated with two-story structures regarding the reverse part associated with road.

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

The “Abdullah Freres” studio, run by three brothers of Armenian lineage, opened in 1858 and quickly became therefore honored because of its skills that are technical artistry that simply 5 years later on the brothers had been known as royal photographers to your 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 ability as landscape photographers internationally. They hosted a clientele that is distinguished these years, photographing Edward, the Prince of Wales, during their trip to Turkey, and Eugenie, the Empress of France. By 1886, their popularity had spread in terms of Egypt, and also at the non-public demand for the Khedive (Viceroy) here, in addition they exposed a branch in Cairo which lasted for the decade that is next. Interestingly enough, 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 into the major metropolises regarding the Ottoman Empire. Their picture of this Galata Bridge, the connection spanning the Golden Horn in Constantinople and another regarding the town’s principal landmarks, is remarkable for the view associated with the Old City. As minarets soar when you look at the distance, the blurred pictures of ships within the middle ground suggest a bustling website of commerce, an metropolitan landscape where in actuality the conventional suits the present day in powerful habits of change.

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

a couple of five studio photographs depicting a porter and diverse kinds of road vendors stages an interchange that is similar for even though men’s professions are old-fashioned, these are typically now being represented utilizing 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 filled with power, could be the Abdullah Freres image of the fire brigade in Constantinople. Because of the age and proximity of several structures, combined with the considerable usage of wood timbers in construction, the town lived under constant danger of fire, and firefighters hence held a role that is significant the city. By dedicating a record web page for them specifically, the Abdullah Freres respected their importance to life that is civic simultaneously showing the preparedness and modernity of Constantinople’s municipal solutions.

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

These brief examples reveal just a small fraction associated with the level of Armenian participation in photography through the century that is late-nineteenth. There have been a large number of other Armenians working not merely in Ottoman lands however in Eastern Europe and Central Asia whose legacy nevertheless stays to be explored. Since the amount of pictures through the Gigord Collection obtainable in the Getty’s electronic collections is growing, it really is our hope that information on this remarkable link that is historical the Armenian community and photography for the reason that period becomes more commonly accessible, and therefore fresh discoveries will still be made. The annals of photography is really a reasonably brand new control, and this chapter continues to be being written.

Julia Grimes is finishing her Ph.D. in Chinese contemporary and modern art at the University of Ca, Los Angeles. She has been an extensive research associate during the Getty analysis Institute since 2010.

Explore more photographs through the Pierre Gigord collection over during the Getty analysis Institute 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 click on website website link in top right part to obtain access to records).

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

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