Ca. 1890s. Oblong Folio album (ca. 32,5x42,5 cm). 24 card stock leaves. With 25 large mounted original photographs, including 24 albumen photos from ca. 26,5x34 cm (10 ¼ x 13 ½ in) to ca. 19x24,5 cm (7 ½ x 9 ½ in), and one gelatin silver photo ca. 20,5x27,5 cm (8 x 10 ¾ in). Twelve photos numbered (one also captioned) in negative. All photos with period ink manuscript captions (in French) on the paper labels mounted on verso of opposite leaves. Period lacquered Thai album fastened with a string. The front board with several decorative vignettes showing a Thai warrior, a temple and people in boats, as well as the album’s title in Thai script. Moire endpapers, all edges gilt. A couple of photos very mildly faded, a couple with minor creases or tears on extremities, one photo with a minor loss of the right lower corner, four pieces of ivory decorating the figure of the Thai warrior on the front board are missing; but overall a very good album of large strong photos.
A beautiful lacquered album with a rare collection of twenty-five large early photos of Bangkok, taken by the studio of German photographer Robert Lenz, who was active in Singapore and Thailand in the 1890s. Lenz arrived in Bangkok on the special invitation of King Rama V and established his studio at the corner of Charoen Krung Road (New Road). He became known for the architectural views of the Siamese capital, portraits of Thai royalty and nobility, cabinet portrait photos, and postcards. Lenz sold his studio to another German photographer Emil Groote (1870-1948) in 1904.
From the review of Joachim K. Bautze’s “Unseen Siam: Early Photography, 1860-1910” (Bangkok: River Books, 2017), written by Leslie A. Castro-Woodhouse (Trans Asia Photography. Vol. 9, Issue 2, Spring 2019, https://quod.lib.umich.edu/t/tap/7977573.0009.210?view=text;rgn=main): “The Lenz name and pictures are well known to students of nineteenth-century Siamese history. He became the most prominent photographer in Bangkok and was well-loved by the Siamese royals, who frequently utilized his services. “Lenz’s work in Bangkok began with short visits from his Singapore studio in 1893, marketing his range of “artistic” and novelty images and “collodion-chloride process... pictures which do not fade.” (p. 291). In 1898, Lenz moved his studio to Bangkok permanently when he became the official photographer to the king of Siam. The pictures collected here show some of the spectacular portrait work that Lenz did during his ten years in Bangkok (1899-1907): portraits of King Chulalongkorn and his high queens, children, and ministers posed against sumptuous draperies, painted scenes, and plush carpets and surrounded by Western furnishings of the latest styles. Plates 30-100, however, reflect Lenz’s skill as a landscape photographer and provide historical images of the royal palace (plates 47-49), important temples (plates 55-66), river scenes (plates 67-86), dancers (plates 92-94), people (plates 87-91 and 99-101), and elephants (plates 106-16). Lenz should be ranked with Francis Chit among the most historically important photographers in nineteenth-century Siam”.
Our album includes a general view of Bangkok taken from above, photos of the Grand Palace, Summer Palace, Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Chao Phraya (Menam) River, Saranrom Park, a boat procession on a river, a street on one of the city’s khlongs (canals), a temple where cremations take place, two views of a temple’s interior, etc. There is also a portrait of a young prince, group portraits of Thai actors and musicians, and four photos of a herd of elephants being captured in front of a crowd of spectators. Overall a rare collection of large, well-preserved photos of 19th-century Thailand.
Captions to the photos: I. Le Palais du Roi. Bangkok; II. Temple où se trouve une statuette de Bouddha. C’est le palladium de Bangkok. La statuette est jaillée dans une seule émeraude d’une valeur unestimable; III. Temple où sont déposées les urnes renfermant les cendres des anciens Rois du Siam; IV. Vue de face du temple précédent; V. Autre temple. Mélange de style Siamois et de style Hidou; VI. Fresques d’un temple; VII. Vie générale du Palais; VIII. Temple á l’entrée du fleuve Ménam; IX. Vue á vol d’oiseau de Bangkok; X. Résidence d’Eté du Roi; XI. Idem; XII. Parc de Bangkok. Allée de bambous; XIII. Autre vue du parc; XIV. Procession sur le fleuve; XV. Rue et canal. Bangkok; XVI. Troupe d’acteurs; XVII. Jeune prince Siamois. Costume national; XVIII. Intériour d’un temple; XIX. Temple où se font les crémations; XX. Chasse á éléphants. Eléphants capturés; XXI. Idem. Eléphants chassés vers le kraal; XXII. Idem. Eléphants captifs amenés; XXIII. Idem; XXIV. Orchestre Siamois; [XXV]. Salle du trône (Palais de Bangkok).
Price: $7,500.00 USD
Status: On Hold