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Deluxe Palestine souvenir album

[BONFILS, Félix].
[Palestine, 1880s]. Oblong album (44.5 x 31.5 cm) With 71 large photographic albumen prints, mostly ca. 22 x 28 cm, signed and captioned in the negative (in French and English), mounted on both sides of the album's leaves. Includes a three-part folding panorama of Jerusalem from Mount Olivet, measuring 82 x 21 cm. Original auburn morocco with gold-stamped front board, gilt edges.
€ 18,000
A rare and unusually massive Palestine souvenir album containing 71 photographs by the renowned studio of Félix Bonfils (1831-85), the French-born photographer who had come to the Levant with General d'Hautpoul in 1860 and remained active in the East. Based in Beirut, Bonfils produced thousands of photographs depicting Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Greece and other parts of the Ottoman Empire. In the early days of western tourism to the Middle East, his works soon became popular as souvenirs. The photographs were available both separately and as customized albums, but sets of this scope were uncommon,
very few exceeding fifty images. The sumptuous binding, which the owner would have commissioned, underlines that this was a deluxe souvenir for a more than ordinarily wealthy traveller. It features landscapes and city views, famous sights such as Jaffa Gate (Bab el-Khalil), sites sacred to the three religions (Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Church of the Flagellation, Al-Aqsa Mosque, Mosque of Omar, Wailing Wall), but also sights outside Jerusalem, including Hebron, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, the River Jordan, Jericho, Wadi el-Kelt, Khan-el-Ahmar, Bethany, Nazareth and Emmaus.
The photographs occasionally show some insignificant loss of contrast, but are in good condition overall. The paperboard album leaves show a few flaws along the edges, including a chafe mark across the lower edge where the paper has buckled. Binding in good condition, with occasional scuffing (more obvious on the back board). A fine album of photographs of Palestine.
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Related Subjects:

Art & architecture  >  Photography
Asia  >  Central & West Asia
Middle east & islamic world  >  Central & West Asia