Ca. 1867-81. Large folio album ca. 46x33 cm with 50 large original albumen photographs, each 28x22 cm, mounted loosely one per leaf on brown paper leaves. All captioned in French and/or English, and signed and/or numbered in negative by the studio ‘Bonfils’. Period red quarter leather with marbled boards. Mild wear at album’s extremities and spine, one hinge with a crack at tail of the spine, two photographs with a very small tear (ca. 0.5 cm), and one photograph mildly faded, but overall a very good album with strong, sharp photographs.
This interesting album contains 50 large photographs by Maison Bonfils (active 1867-81, studio in Beirut) showing important religious sites in the Holy Land of Israel and Palestine. The majority of the photographs show Jerusalem, including detailed images of the interior and exterior of buildings, views of biblical sites and general views of the city. There are also a few photographs of Bethlehem and Jaffa and one photograph showing a group of people resting with their camels in the desert. Maison Bonfils was started by PaulFelix 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).
The photographs included in this album are: Couvent du Mont Garmet, Palestine; Jaffa, la passe; Vasquez de Salomon; Halte de Chameaux dans le Desert; Grotte de la Nativité; Bethléem, Grotte de la Nativité, la Crêche; La Vallée du Tiropeon, Jerusalem; Vue de Jerusalem; Vue de Jerusalem et Eglise Russe; Panorama of Jerusalem, taken from the North; Porte dorée extérieure, Jerusalem; Tomb of David on Mt Zion; Mount of Olives; Ancient Church of the Ascension; Tomb of the Virgin and Cave of the Agony; Cave of the Agony, interior; The garden of Gethsemane, general view; and others.