Rare Large Early Photos of Massawa, Eritrea

[Collection of Fourteen Early Large Albumen Photographs of Eritrea, Showing Massawa, the Taulud and Green Islands, the Gherar Peninsula, the Celebration of the Italian Victory in the Battle of Coatit, Performance of “Teatro Circolo Ufficiale” in Massawa, etc.]

Ca. 1890s. Fourteen loose gelatin silver photographs, from ca. 21,5x27,5 cm (8 ¼ x 11 in) to ca. 18x27,5 cm (7x11 in). All but one photo captioned in negative, twelve photos with the stamps of the studio of L. Naretti, Massawa, in negative. One photo with a period ink caption on recto; ten photos with period pencil dates “97-98” on verso; three photos with longer period ink notes in Italian on vers. A few images mildly faded, and a couple with minor foxing, but overall a very good collection of rare large interesting photographs.

Historically important collection of large, well-preserved albumen photos of Massawa and environs from the early years of Italian rule of Eritrea and the events of the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1895-96. The photos mostly focus on Massawa and include a general view of the Massawa waterfront (taken from the Taulud Island), closer views of a Massawa neighbourhood with the Sheikh Said (Green) Island and “Monte Ghedam,” Gherar peninsula (taken from the Abdel Kader peninsula), a scene at Massawa’s “bazar Arabo” (featuring native and Italian people), etc. Very interesting is a view of Massawa’s “Piazza Regina Margherita” during the celebration of Italy’s victory over Ethiopia during the Battle of Coatit and Senafe (January 13, 1895); the scene depicts the arrival of the Italian Governor of Eritrea Oreste Baratieri (in office: 1892-96). Another photo shows the stage and actors of “Teatro Circolo Ufficiale,” posing during the “Ballo Theodorus” performance in Massawa on November 20, 1892. Five views of the Taulud Island show the native village with Massawa’ cityline in the background, several Italian buildings, a square with the cisterns for fresh water delivered from the nearby town of Moncullo, a street with railway tracks in the foreground, and Taulud railway station with Italian soldiers departing for the “plateau” front in 1896. The other photos include a general view of Adwa (the site of the famous Battle of Adwa in March 1896), a group portrait of an Amhara family in front of their house, and a group portrait of Italian (?) cyclists, captioned “Mariout, 1o Aprile 1900.” Overall an interesting collection of rare unusual photos of Eritrea in the late 19th century.
Luigi Naretti was one of the first photographers of Italian Eritrea. He opened his studio in Massawa in ca. 1885 and later also worked from the Taulud Island, specializing in “portraits, groups, costumes and views.” In 1898 he received the gold medal from the Italian Exposition in Torino. In 1899 he moved to Asmara. After his death, his widow sold over 500 remaining photographic plates to the Baratti studio in Asmara. See more about Luigi Naretti and his work in: Palma, S. Fotografia di una colonia: L’Eritrea di Luigi Naretti (1885-1900)// Quaderni storici. Nuova Series, Vol. 37, No. 109 (1), Aprile 2002, pp. 83-147.

Item #371

Price: $1,750.00 USD

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