Teylers museum | travel photography 19th century

Now this is interesting. In my home town, Haarlem, an exhibition with nineteenth century travel photographs : “Wereldreis met fotopioniers” (World journey with photo pioneers).

Teylers museum, the oldest museum in the Netherlands, organised with the Rijksmuseum a unique exhibition about a time when traveling and photography were adventurous, elaborate undertakings and only affordable/ doable for few people.

A far travel in the 19th century and the production of a photo in those days was not a simple and easy task. It was costly and loads of material had to be carried along. The photographic processes in those days usually : the Albumen process and the Collodion process*.

Teylers Museum owns and shows the album Voyage au Sudan, with early photographs of women from Dafur, dating 1854. The Rijksmuseum displays photographs of master photographer Gustave Le Gray.

Autoportrait, Gustave Le Gray, vers 1856-1859 (What a life he had and what a tragedy for his family when he fled!).

Also showing are photos of Alexandrine Tinne, the first Dutch female explorer in North Africa, and her travel companions. (Another intriguing and tragic bio).

In the story of the search for the sources of the Nile, one explorer—rarely mentioned—was Dutch and female. Alexine Tinne, who would have been one of the richest heiresses in The Netherlands, squeezed into her short life enough adventure to satisfy a dozen ordinary mortals, and then died tragically and dramatically in the Sahara. Read more.

De voortgang van de expeditie, die uit tweehonderd personen bestond, was langzaam. De dames Tinne namen veel spullen mee, waaronder een porseleinen servies en zilveren bestek. Ook het loodzware ijzeren ledikant van Alexine Tinne werd overal mee naartoe gesleept…. Tot ver in de twintigste eeuw lag de nadruk vooral op de reizen van Alexine Tinne, en is er weinig geschreven over het feit dat zij een van de eerste fotografen van niveau in Nederland was. In het gemeentearchief te Den Haag bevinden zich haar Haagse foto’s. Ook tijdens haar reizen fotografeerde zij. Lees de gehele geschiedenis.

Most travels in those days were archaeological expeditions and the photos made were often illustrations for academic articles. Or they were journeys made by rich people who wanted to venture into the old world (via Italy, Greece to Egypt) and when the Suez Canal opened even into India and Indochina and beyond.

Meanwhile photography developed, it became less cumbersome. When stereo photography, invented by Charles Wheatstone, became popular : the world in 3D, photography had turned commercial. In the exposition we can see the works of dedicated photographers like Francis Frith and the photo equipment they worked with.

When around 1900 a simple and cheap box camera with film became available, all travelers were able to make photographs. The exhibition in Haarlem shows also the work of amateur photographers.

I must see this exhibition. I plan Sunday next week.


Another online exhibition : “Global Views 19th Century Travel Photographs”

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the rapid development and increasing recognition of the art of photography, along with a growing fascination with other countries and cultures, marked the beginning of the formation of a “global visual culture.” In the decades following the invention of photography in 1839, professional photographic firms appeared in the major cities of Western Europe, as well as in more remote travel destinations such as Greece, Egypt, India, Asia, and the Middle East. The earliest travel photographers produced images primarily for publications which functioned as surrogates for travel, spurring curiosity and inspiring Grand Tour travelers who, by the 1870s and ’80s, were flocking to exotic sites to visit the monuments of the ancient and medieval past.

Catering to this influx of European and American tourists, a growing number of travel photographers documented historical monuments and archeological sites, as well as scenes of daily life. Technological developments enabled these photographers to produce relatively large numbers of images that were chiefly intended to satisfy the burgeoning tourism trade and the thirst for images of the Orient, the term traditionally used in the nineteenth century to refer to the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. As the techniques of photography became less cumbersome, transporting equipment became more practical. Photographers began to sell their pictures on-site to tourists who collected them as souvenirs during their travels.

These unique photographs have artifactual value for the history of photography, as well as documentary value for the study of the architectural and social history of the regions in which they were produced…

Read more and see the slideshow : “Global Views: 19th-Century Travel Photographs” | Princeton

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalmaritimemuseum/sets/72157607211759314/ | National Maritime Museum | Freeze frame.

Freeze Frame is a selection of photographs from two expeditions to the Arctic: Captain Edward Inglefield in 1854, and Captain George Nares in 1875-76. Both expeditions used photographic processes that were in their infancy, having been announced to the public only a few years before.

Photo pioneers in California : Dialogue among Giants: Carleton Watkins and the Rise of Photography in California | The Getty exhibition

He photographed the expansive western landscape with its miles of coastline, vast natural resources, colossal trees, and the monoliths of the Yosemite Valley using an oversize mammoth-plate camera.

In the 1860s Watkins’s Yosemite photographs brought him fame from as far away as Paris, but a decade later he experienced a painful financial reversal. In the end, he died a pauper in 1916 after a life that brought him into dialogue with the many “giants” of his era. The photographs he left behind provide a unique personal vision of the birth and growth of California.

http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/%7Eulrich/femhist/travel.shtml – Female explorers


Updated 24 July

Boston.com – the big picture |Beijing preparations

Fotofestiwal Lodz 2008 | MADE IN CHINA – Chinese photography

China by Chinese photographers | Photo festival 2006 portfolios

When I met my uncle JJ at a yearly family gathering (March), we talked about China. He showed me a Dutch magazine special on China. In the special edition was a short article about my uncle and my uncle’s book : Een jaar Peking – op de fiets door de culturele revolutie (a year Beijing – on the bike through the cultural revolution). He told me that reporters of the magazine travelled to China with books, including his, in order to read old reports and stories and thus trying to experience/compare the old and the new China. As my uncle is still passionate about China, he made me curious. With a focus on photography and art, here’s what I’m discovering and learning…

Wikipedia | Chinese photography

new festival : TOPS

Wang qingsong

88 mocca

FOTOFEST2008 – dedicated to the theme of CHINA and the ancillary theme Transformations

Getty and the Games

BBC | Country profile : China

Prospect, Mark Leonard | China’s new intelligentsia

“Despite the global interest in the rise of China, no one is paying much attention to its ideas and who produces them. Yet China has a surprisingly lively intellectual class whose ideas may prove a serious challenge to western liberal hegemony“.

Sign and sight | From the Feuilletons

Weblog NRC | China

Zwart Shanxi (Vervuiling in China) | Teun Voeten

Canvas TV | China voor beginners : de foto’s

Netkwesties | De chinese muur