RARE PHOTOGRAPH VOLUME OF THE FIRST YEARS OF THE SUEZ CANAL, WITH 18 EXHIBITION-SIZE MOUNTED VINTAGE ALBUMEN PRINTS
(MIDEAST) ARNOUX, Hippolyte, ZANGAKI Brothers. Photograph Album. Suez Canal. Egypt, circa 1870. Oblong quarto, contemporary pebbled cloth rebacked and recornered in period-style black morocco gilt, 18 vintage albumen prints (each measures circa 7-1/2 by 10-3/4 inches), individually mounted on heavy card stock (each leaf measures 10-1/2 by 14 inches), all edges gilt. $2800.
Rare photograph volume of 18 splendid vintage albumen prints of the earliest years of the Suez Canal, photographed circa 1870, printed from wet-plate glass negatives and individually mounted on heavy card stock, most by renowned photographer Hippolyte Arnoux, who “specialized in documenting the construction of the Suez Canal” with photographs taken from his boat—a floating darkroom—and the famed Zangaki Brothers, who traveled the length of the Nile in their horse-drawn darkroom van.
With the much-heralded opening of the Suez Canal in November 1869, "a great swathe of coastal waters… was suddenly connected to the shipping world of the Mediterranean and beyond" (Munro, Maritime Enterprise, 154-5). This rare photograph album documents the earliest years of the Suez Canal in a collection of 18 exhibition-size mounted vintage albumen prints, most by famed photographers Hippolyte Arnoux and the Zangaki Brothers. Six of the album's rarely found vintage prints are by the French-born Arnoux, who, beginning in the mid-1860s. "specialized in documenting the construction of the Suez Canal" (Micklewright and Bassey, Victorian Traveler, 175n). Arnoux's "studio was located in the Place des Consuls, and later in Place Ferdinand des Lesseps in Port Said… and the sailing boat which served both as a floating darkroom and to transport his equipment, advertised his specialty, being emblazoned with the legend 'Photographie du Canal.' The earliest of his photographs—which were all undated except one—was taken shortly after the canal's opening in 1869." Nine of the album's exceptional vintage prints are by George and Constantine Zangaki, who "produced some of the finest images of late Victorian Egypt… They were probably Greek Cypriots, although it has been suggested they may have come from Crete… Their photographs, however, were simply identified as 'Zangaki,' the letter 'Z' being frequently mistaken for a stylised 'L… The horse-drawn darkroom van with which they toured the length of the Nile bore the legend 'Zangaki Brothers' and… the majority of their images are titled (in the negatives) in French" (Hannavy, Encyclopedia of 19th-Century Photography, 73, 1521). With images of Port Said, the busy Canal traffic of two- to four-masted ships, sailboats and steamships, shorelines crowded with camels and travelers, portraits of local people, and sweeping vistas of Cairo that include views of El-Hussein Mosque (titled "el mosquée Hassan" in the Arnoux print). Most prints identified with full or partial captions and numbering in the negative.
Prints fine; handsomely bound.