Ca. 1880s. Oblong Folio ca. 25x33 cm. 49 stiff card leaves (12 blank). With 124 mounted albumen prints, including 36 larger photographs, from 17,5x23 cm to 15x21,5 cm; the rest are from 11x18 cm to 7x10,5 cm. The majority captioned in French in period manuscript black ink on the mounts, several with additional notes in Arabic. Contemporary quarter leather with pebbled cloth boards and marbled papered endpapers, spine with gilt tooled decorations and gilt lettered title ‘Album’. With an engraved armorial bookplate from the Montvaillant library pasted on the inner side of the front cover. Slightly rubbed on extremities, several leaves a bit waved, several images slightly faded, but overall a very good album.
Interesting collection of original photos documenting the service of the Second Regiment of French Chasseurs d’Afrique in Tlemcen, an important regional centre in the Oman department of French Algeria, and a popular vacation spot for the French residents of the colony. The Chasseurs d’Afrique, a corps of light cavalry was formed in 1830 during the French Conquest of Algeria, and was actively employed on service in North Africa and several other locations around the world, with the personnel usually being recruited from French volunteers of French residents of North Africa. The Second Regiment of the Chasseurs d’Afrique was stationed and operated in the Algerian province of Oran, with several breaks when the corps took part in the Crimean War (1854-56), the Italian War of 1859, military expeditions to Morocco (1859) and China (1860), France’s Invasion of Mexico (1862-67), Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), and others.
The album dates back to the Second Regiment’s service in Tlemcen in the 1880s and contains over fifty photos of its officers (all mounted on horses) and privates, including: adjutants Plaire, Gaussens, Moret; ‘‘capitaine-instructeur’’ A.-T. De Fleurance; mayor of medical service (2 class) R.-B.-F.-A. Roux; captain-commandant P.-E. Chassery, second captains L. Boudon, J.-A.-F. Poch, E.-D. Gallois; first lieutenant C.-J.-C.-F. Bartoli; and others.
Over fifty photos show different parts of Tlemcen, with interesting views of the Catholic church of St. Michel (its altered building now serves as a public library), a crossroad with Café de Boulevard in the foreground and the tower of Mosque Sidi Brahim behind, the Banque de l’Algéria, the Grand Bassin, Boulevard Nationale, numerous ancient city gate (Porte d’Oran, Porte du Sud, Porte de Bou Médine, Porte de Fez, Porte des Carrières, Porte Bab-el-Khemis, Porte du Méchouar), ruins of the nearby Mansoura fortress, Mosque Sidi Brahim, the house of the 2nd regiment’s colonel A.-J. Roullet, old Arabic cemetery, Mosque Sidi El Haloui, Tower of Agadir, chapel of the French military hospital, several street views (Rue Haedo, Rue de Mascara, Place du Beylick), the Great Mosque, City Medrese, the major city market (‘Grand Marché’), Arabic market on Place Cavagnac, several ‘messageries oranaises’ (local post coaches), and many others. There are also seven family portraits taken in Tlemcen, and several views of Tunis, Constantine and Annaba. Overall a very interesting historically significant visual account of Tlemcen and its French military contingent in the 1880s.
‘‘Tlemcen has more buildings dating from the 12th to the 15th century than any other town in Algeria. With the exception of the Great Mosque built by the Almoravids in the 12th century, most of the city’s medieval buildings strongly reflect the influence of Moorish (Muslim) Spain’’ (Encyclopedia Britannica).