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Amazing Vintage Photos of Egypt from the 1870s

30 Nov
The New York Public Library has shared an incredible gallery of over 9,000 photographs and illustrations of the Middle East from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century. These include, books, albums and archival compilations.

Monuments of ancient Egypt and the Biblical world figured prominently in the early years of photography. French Academician François Arago (1786-1853) endorsed the new medium in 1839 claiming it would provide a labor-saving means “to copy the millions and millions of hieroglyphics which entirely cover the great monuments at Thebes, Memphis and Carnac, etc.” Immediately artist-travelers took chemicals, cameras, and photographic plates of metal, and later glass into the regions around the southeastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, to record the famous sights that had been known previously to Westerners only through the intervention of the artist’s hand.

In addition to early photographic pioneers Du Camp, Salzmann, Robertson & Beato, and Frith, the collection includes work by image providers catering to tourist travelers in the last third of the 19th century, such as Arnoux, A. Beato, Bonfils, Lekegian, Sébah, and Zangaki. The selection offers resources for exploring Western impressions of the Middle East in that era through the lens of practitioners of the new medium of photography, and in turn through the expectations, preferences, and assumptions of its consumers.

Below is a curated selection of 30 photographs of Egypt from 1870-1875. Enjoy!

China in color pictures from 1920-30s

29 Sep

These glass slides were taken by the Russian-born photographer Serge Vargassoff (1906-1965) who established himself as a professional photographer, at the age of 20, in Peking (Beijing), China and became a long-term resident of the city. Later he established a studio ‘Serge Vargassoff Photography’ at 3A Wyndham Street Hong Kong, as well as working at “Gainsborough Studio, Morning Post Building, Hong Kong”. Vargassoff was well known to Hedda Hammer Morrision. Hedda Morrison writes fondly of Vargassoff in her book, A Photographer in Old Peking (1985), “[Serge Vargassoff] was an excellent, though not very businesslike, photographer. We enjoyed a firm friendship and it was he who brought me the news of the Japanese surrender – and a bottle of vodka with which to celebrate the event.

Pavilion

Wulong Ting (Five-Dragon-Pavilion) in Beihai Park

The wall of Tuan Cheng (Circular City) in Beihai Park

The Stone Pailou (Gateway) in Zhongshan Park

A glazed gateway with a pavilion in Beihai Park

Wu Men (the Meridian Gate) in the Forbidden City

Dafeng Zushi Temple

Umbrella repair man

A noodle stall on the footpath

The marble statue of a standing camel on the Sacred Way of Ming Tombs

Part of the Great Wall

A woman wearing a headdress

Horse drawn carriage

A man in his shoe repair stall

Painted clay sculptures of Ming dynasty in Dahui Si (Temple of the Great Wisdom)