[Album with Forty-five Early Large Original Black Signature Bonfils Albumen Photographs of Egypt Showing Thebes, Dendera, the Pyramids, Cairo and Alexandria Titled:] Egypte
Beirut: Ca. 1867-1870.
Oblong Folio (ca. 35 x46.5 cm). With 49 beige card leaves. With 45 mounted (recto only) albumen photographs ca. 22 x 28.5 cm (8.5 x 11.5 in.) (signed (Black Signature) and numbered in negative in photo), each with a printed caption on paper pasted on the mount. Mounts additionally with printed signature "Bonfils. Phot., Beyrouth. (Syrie)." Attractive period dark green quarter morocco with pebbled cloth boards, gilt titled "Egypte." A few of the mounts mildly foxed otherwise a very good album of strong and sharp interesting early photos.
This album is composed of some of the "earliest images of Maison Bonfils.., sensitively composed architectural views. This high quality is particularly evident in the black signature views"(Jacobsen p. 216). The present album of forty-five photos of Egypt includes twenty photos of Thebes including thirteen detailed ones of the Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu showing the Royal Pavilion, the main entrance, pylons, gates, courts, reliefs with inscriptions and the surrounding plain; Colossi of Memnon; a General view of the Ramesseum and its Osirid statues; General view of the Valley of the Kings; Karnak temple including its Columns. Six photos of the temple complex at Dendera including general views, columns and reliefs. Six photos of the Pyramids and Giza (two including the Sphinx) including one photo of the landscape with trees around the Pyramids. Seven photos of Cairo, including three of the Mosque of Muhammad Ali with the Great Fountain and four general views of Cairo showing the Citadel, aqueduct and the Mosque and Madrasa of Sultan Hassan. Finally, six photos of Alexandria including the Consul's Square, Cleopatra's Needle, Pompey's Pillar, the Turkish Cemetery, city view and shoreline with English Church. The Maison Bonfils was started by 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).
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