Early Photographers in Greece and the Mediterranean
Fratelli Alinari was an Italian firm founded in Florence in 1852 by the three Alinari brothers, Romualdo, Leopoldo, and Giuseppe. Fratelli Alinari became one of the largest and most prolific European photography firms of the 19th and 20th centuries. By 1880 the firm employed over 100 people. Alinari specialized in views of Italy and the reproduction of works of art.
Konstantinos Athanasiou (dates unknown) was born in Constantinople (Istanbul). From 1875 to 1905 he operated photography studios in Athens, working exclusively in the field of archaeological photography. He specialized in making bas–relief photographs and stereographs, and at some point acquired Dimitris Konstantinou's negatives. Although not well known in Greece, Athanasiou's work was known throughout the European archaeological community.
Francis Bedford (1861–1894) was an English photographer who began his career as a lithographer. Around 1852 he learned photography to aid his printing work, and a few years later he was commissioned by Queen Victoria to photograph items in the royal collections. In addition to photographing objects, Bedford became known for his landscapes and views of monuments. From 1863 to 1884 Bedford made annual photographic trips to Devonshire and North Wales. In 1863 he served as photographer on the Prince of Wales's tour of the Near East and Greece. His photographs of the tour were published later that year in the four–album set Photographic Pictures made by Mr. Francis Bedford during the Tour in the East, in which, by command he accompanied H. M. H. the Prince of Wales, and in a smaller edition in 1866. Bedford worked in the wet collodion process throughout his long career.
Félix Bonfils (1831–1885), a French printer turned photographer, moved to Beruit in 1867 and opened a photographic studio. He photographed the cities and sites of the eastern Mediterranean including Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Greece, which he visited in 1868–1870 and again in the mid–1870s. His photographs of Greece were included in the albums Architecture Antique: égypte, Grèce, Asie Mineure. Album de photographies (1872) and Souvenirs dOrient (1878). Bonfils's wife Lydie, son Adrien, and daughter Félicie were all involved in the family business, which also employed numerous assistant photographers. Their firm became a very successful and prolific purveyor of commercial travel views, with distrubutors in Alexandria, Cairo, Jerusalem, Damascus, Port Said, Paris, and Basel. Adrien took over direction of photography expeditions in 1878, and ran the firm after his father's death until the late 1890s. Lydie then managed the firm, eventually selling it around 1909 to Abraham Guiragossian, who continued using the Bonfils name into the 1930s.
Bartolomeo Borri (dates unknown), a photographer of Italian origin, established a studio in Corfu in the 1860s. He won a bronze medal at the third Olympia Exhibition in 1875, and exhibited at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1878. In 1890 his son Giuseppe (1873–1931), joined his studio and the name was changed to Borri & figlio. In 1907 they received the "Great Award" at the Bordeaux Exposition International. The firm was in existence until 1943.
Braun Clément & Cie was the final manifestation of a photography studio formed by Jean Adolphe Braun (1812–1877), a designer of decorative arts such as textiles, porcelain, and wallpaper. Braun took up photography in the early 1850s and exhibited at the Exposition Universelle of 1855. Braun's work realized almost instant acclaim and he quickly became one of the preeminent photographers of his day. By 1859, working under the firm name Ad. Braun, he had specialized in landscapes and stereographs and soon amassed a catalog of over 6,000 images. Although the reproduction of works of art had become the firm's specialty by 1883, it also continued to produce views taken around the world. Over the years the firm went through several name changes before becoming Braun Clément & Cie in 1889.
Giacomo Brogi (1822–1881), an Italian engraver based in Florence, became one of the most renowned photographers of that city. He learned photography from the scientist Tito Puliti and in 1856 opened a studio with an unknown partner. In 1859 or 1860 he established his own studio, specializing at first in portrait photography. Brogi soon began to produce views and other subjects, and in 1863 he published his first catalog. His business eventually expanded to include studios and associates throughout Italy. Brogi was a founder and the first vice president of the Italian Photographic Society.
George Wilson Bridges (1788–1863), was a British cleric who spent the early part of his career in Jamaica. In December 1845 he learned the calotype process from Nicolaas Henneman, William Fox Talbot's printer, specifically so that he could record his upcoming tour of the Mediterranean and the Near East. Around 1850 Bridges became the first photographer to use the calotype process in Greece. The album he produced there, Illustrations of the Acropolis of Athens, was never published. Following his grand tour Bridges began issuing his photographs in installments under the title Selections from Seventeen-Hundred Genuine Photographs: (Views-Portraits-Statuary-Antiquities). Taken around the Shores of the Mediterranean between the Years 1846–1852. With, or Without, Notes, Historical and Descriptive. By a Wayworn Wanderer.
Giovanni Crupi (dates unknown) was an Italian photographer active in Taormina, Sicily, from about 1860 to 1880.
Konstantinos Dimitriou (dates unknown) worked in Athens from ca. 1875 to 1900. He photographed towns, archaeological sites, and monuments, producing large–format pictures for the tourist trade.
A. W. Elson & Co. was a Boston printing firm that specialized in making and printing photogravure plates from original photographs.
Francis F. Frith (1822–1898) was an English photographer and publisher who owned a wholesale grocery business and a printing firm before turning to photography in the early 1850s. In 1853 he became a founding member of the Liverpool Photographic Society. Although Frith eventually photographed and published views taken throughout Britain and Europe, he is best known for his photographs of Egypt and the Near East. Between 1856 and1859 he made three tours of the area, visiting and photographing Athens in 1860 at the end of his third trip. During these trips Frith used the wet collodion process, producing technically skilled negatives under difficult conditions. Although Frith's photographs were initially distributed by a variety of printers and publishers, he opened F. Frith and Company after returning from his final Near Eastern journey. An astute business man, Frith's firm grew to such an extent that by 1870 he had made or published over 100,000 views taken around the world. Frith produced numerous books and portfolios of his photographs as well as postcards and stereograph cards and is considered the first English mass–producer of photographs. F. Frith and Co. was run by his descendents until 1971.
Dimitris Konstantinou (dates unknown) was one of the earliest Greek photographers. His involvement with photography began in 1854 when he assisted James Robertson and Felix Beato during their visit to Greece. Konstantinou opened his own studio in 1858, specializing in photographs of ancient monuments for the tourist trade, and was the first photographer to work with the Greek Archaeological Society. He participated in various international exhibitions, receiving a silver medal at the first Olympia Exhibition in 1859 and a bronze medal at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle. Konstantinou signed his work with various Latinized forms of his name including: D. Costantin, D. Constantin, and D. Constantine, as well as Demetre Constantin and Demetre Constantinidis.
Philippos Margarites (1810–1892), born in Smyrna (Izmir), Turkey, is considered the first professional Greek photographer. He studied painting in Rome, and in 1842 he became a drawing teacher at the School of Arts in Athens. Margarites learned how to make daguerreotypes from Philibert Perraud who visited Athens in 1846–1847. In 1849 Margarites opened the first photography studio in Athens. In addition to daguerreotype portraits, he made the earliest photographic studies of women in traditional Greek costumes, which he often colored by hand. Margarites went on to work in all of the early photographic processes, producing salt, calotype, wet collodion, and albumen prints. In January 1855 his photographs of the Acropolis, included in an art exhibition at the Polytechnic School, were the first photographs to be on public display in Greece. That same year he was the first Greek to show photographs in an exhibition outside the country, winning a second–class medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle. From 1862 onward Margarites traveled extensively, leaving his studio to be run by his partner Ioannis Konstantiniou. In 1878 a third partner, Ioannis Lambakis, was added to the firm.
Petros Moriates (ca. 1835–1905) was born in Messi on the island of Tinos, and studied painting in Athens. In 1859 he learned photography from Athanasios Kalphas and became his partner in a photography studio. That same year they exhibited their photographs at the first Olympia Exhibition, winning silver medals for their landscapes and photographic reproductions. The following year Moraites opened his own studio, which he ran for the next 35 years, becoming very a popular portrait photographer. He became the first native Greek photographer to hold the title "Photographer to H. M. the King" (ca. 1868). Throughout his career Moraites exhibited his photographs at numerous exhibitions, frequently winning medals for his work.
Konstantinos (d. 1900) and Aristotelis Rhomaides (d. 1916) were known variously as Rhomaides frères, the Rhomaides Brothers, and the Rhomaidae, although they sometimes signed their work as individuals. They began their photographic careers in Bucharest, and operated studios in Ionia and Patras before establishing their practice in Athens in 1876. Between 1875 and 1881 their photographs of the German Archaeological Institutes excavations at Olympia were published in Die Ausgrabungen zu Olympia. They also photographed Heinrich Schliemanns excavations at Mycenae, and exhibited an album of these images at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1878. Although the Rhomaides specialized in archaeological photography, they also photographed many of the notables of their day.
James Robertson (ca. 1813–1888), a Scottish engraver and medalist, went to work at the Imperial Mint in Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1841, eventually becoming chief engraver. His earliest known photographs date to 1853. Robertson operated a photography studio in the Pera quarter of the city from ca. 1854–1856 to 1867. During this time he traveled and photographed in Malta, the Crimea, where he photographed the Crimean war, Greece, and the Near East, including Egypt and Jerusalem, often accompanied by his brothers–in–law Antonio and Felice Beato. Robertson visited Athens in 1854 and 1856. In 1881 he retired from the Imperial Mint and moved to Yokohama, Japan.
Rubellin (dates unknown), a photographer most likely of French origin, established his studio in Smyrna (Izmir), Turkey, in 1860, advertising his business as Photographie Parisienne. Rubellin specialized in views of Smyrna and surrounding areas, focusing on ancient ruins. The firm also produced studio portaits, portrayed the types and costumes of Asia Minor, and photographed Istanbul and Athens. When at least one of Rubellins sons joined the studio it became known as Rubellin père et fils, becoming Rubellin fils in 1900.
Pascal J. Sébah (1823–1886), a Turkish citizen, owned El Chark (The Orient), one of the largest and most prolific photography studios in Constantinople (Istanbul). He made photographic excursions to Egypt and Greece in the 1870s, establishing another studio in Cairo in 1873. That same year the Turkish government sponsored his photographs at the Vienna International Exhibition and commissioned his Les costumes populaires de la Turquie en 1873. Upon his death Sebah's firm was taken over by his brother Cosimi. His nephew Jean joined the firm in 1890 and eventually went into partnership with Policarpe Joallier, changing the name to Sebah and Joailler.
Giorgio Sommer (1834–1914) was an Italian photographer of German descent who received his first camera as a gift from his father at the age of 16. He worked first in Switzerland, and then opened a studio in Naples, Italy, in 1857. Sommer worked in partnership with Edmond Behles, a German photographer based in Rome, from 1860–1872. Sommer produced views, genre scenes, and reproductions of works of art, especially of ancient Greek and Roman statuary from the museums in Naples and Rome. He also made photographic reports on the results of the excavations at Pompeii for the archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli.
William James Stillman (1828–1901) was an American painter, photographer, journalist, and diplomat. He studied painting with Frederick Church, and practiced his art in New York City for several years. In 1855 Stillman co-founded The Crayon, and in 1859 he learned photography and produced a series of photographs of the Adirondacks. From 1861 to 1865 Stillman served as the U.S. consul in Rome, and then in Crete from 1865–1868. Expelled from Crete because of his sympathies for the Cretan independence movement, Stillman moved to Athens, where in 1870 he produced his major photographic work, an album of autotypes titled The Acropolis of Athens: Illustrated Picturesquely and Architecturally in Photography. Later that year he moved to London, where he wrote extensively for photography journals. From 1866 to 1898 he was the London Times correspondent for Greece and Italy.
Alexander Svoboda (dates unknown), a photographer most likely of Russian origin, established a studio in Smyrna (Izmir), Turkey, in the mid–1850s, where he produced travel albums for young aristocrats such as the Duc de Chartes and the Comte de Paris as they made the "grand tour" of the eastern Mediterranean and biblical sites. Svobodas Seven Churches of Asia (1869), with text by H. B. Tristram, documented the remains of seven cities in the region of Anatolia that received epistles from John describing his visions, as recorded in the New Testament book of Revelations. Svoboda's photographs were frequently reproduced as wood engravings in periodicals such as Le Tour du Monde.