Ca. 1902. Oblong Folio (ca. 32x42,5 cm). 29 card stock leaves. With 57 original photographs (56 albumen photos and one gelatin silver photo), from ca. 22x28 cm (8 ¾ x 11 cm) to ca. 12,5x22,5 cm (5 x 8 ¾ in), the majority signed, numbered or captioned in negative, all but six with period manuscript ink captions on the mounts. Owner’s ink inscription on the front free endpaper “Mr. & Mrs. Bruce, Sumburgh, 1902.” With a printed booklet explaining Dr. Schick’s models of the Temple Mount, loosely inserted. Period black half morocco album with black pebbled cloth boards and gilt tooled borders on the spine and corners; moiré endpapers, all edges gilt. Album rubbed on extremities, corners slightly bumped, two mounts with minor tears not affecting the images, one photo with a minor tear on the upper margin, but overall a very good album of strong interesting images.
An interesting collection of well-preserved large photographs by the Bonfils studio showing the iconic sites of Jerusalem and other sites of the Holy Land and the temples of Baalbec; with rare unusual views of Damascus and Constantinople taken by the small local studios. The photos were collected by “Mr. & Mrs. Bruce” of Sumburgh (the Shetland Islands) during their travel to the Holy Land in 1902 (possibly by John Bruce Jr. Of Sumburgh (1837-1907) and his wife Mary; John Bruce Jr. Was Deputy Lieutenant of Orkney and Zetland, Convener of Shetland. J.P., General Merchant, Joint Partner of Grierson & Bruce). The album opens with a large group portrait of the travelling party, apparently including Mr. & Mrs. Bruce, posing in front of the Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem (unsigned studio photo). It is followed by nine sound studio photos of Dr. Conrad Schick’s famous wooden models of the Jerusalem temple and the Temple Mount from the times of the Tabernacle to the late 19th-century.
The album includes 29 photos by the studio of Paul-Felix Bonfils, showing Jerusalem and environs (Siloam, Tombs of the Kings, David’s Gate, Damascus Gate, the Golden Gate, Mount of Olives, the Valley of Josaphat, Garden of Gethsemane), Bethany, Hebron, Mountain of Temptation, Elisha’s Fountain at Jericho, Bethlehem, Damascus (the Minaret of the Bride and the Straight Street), Beirut with the National Evangelical Church, general view and close-up views of the Baalbec temples, Lebanon mountains and a forest of the Lebanon cedars, general panorama and a view of the port of Smyrna (Izmir), and the port of Tripoli. Seven interesting photos by a Damascus studio of Suleiman Hakim include a panorama of the city with the Citadel, views of the Pharpar/Barada River embankment, the Tomb of St. John, the gate of St. Paul’s Wall, and the cedars of Lebanon, a portrait of “an Arab Sheikh” riding a camel, and a photo of the “Pariah dogs” on the street. There are also eight rare views of Istanbul produced by a local Armenian studio of Mihran Iranian (fl. Ca. 1890s). The photos show the Topkapi Palace, the Selamlik Procession of the Turkish Sultan, the Blue Mosque, the “Pigeon Mosque”, and the exterior and interior of the Hagia Sophia (three photos signed “M. Iranian” in negative, the rest are attributed to, by the same type used for the captions). The album closes with a view of San Remo (by Strengel & Co.) and a colour tinted photo of the Blue Grotto on the Capri. An unsigned gelatin silver photo shows a young Arab with a horse in front of Mount Tabor.
Maison Bonfils was started by Paul-Felix Bonfils (1831-1885) in Beirut in 1867 and was "to become one of the most successful photographic businesses in the world. They photographed most of the important sights in the Middle East and their views were widely distributed" (Jacobsen p. 216). Bonfils' "stock had variety enough to please all and ranged from classical landscapes and biblical scenes to ethnographic portraits” (Perez, p. 141).
“Details regarding Mihran Iranian’s life and career are scant. It is known that he established his studio in 1891 in Pera district of Constantinople – the center of Armenian cultural and political life. In 1895 he enters into partnership with another photographer by the name of Gugasyan. By the 1900s the business seems to have wound down. Of all the major Armenian studios from Istanbul, Iranian’s albumen photographs are the rarest and less than 300 images are known to have survived. Iranian’s primary subject was the city of Constantinople, its picturesque landscape, architectural heritage and the many types of artisans and workers that populated its streets. Evidently using a light camera with faster lens, which allowed for mobility and rapid exposures, Iranian captured the bustle of the city streets with remarkable clarity. Teeming with movement, these images often have an immediacy and documentary veracity unlike similar views produced by other Istanbul photographers from the previous decade” (Galstyan, V. Database of Armenian Photo-Media Practitioners/ http://www.lusarvest.org/practitioners/iranian-mihran/).
Price: $2,500.00 USD