Armenian Photographers, a Turkish Sultan, a French Empress, and an American Doctor

Nicholas Brenner and John Pollack

The stories behind an Ottoman album of Constantinople photographs (Ms. Coll. 445)

October 29, 2021 - 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm @ Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, 6th Floor, Kislak Center
Cover of Constantinople ancienne et moderne (Ms. Coll. 445)

In the presentation, Penn undergraduate and Kislak SHIP Summer 2021 intern Nicholas Brenner and Curator of Research Services John Pollack will present an extraordinary work of early photography. Entitled Constantinople Ancienne et Moderne, this oversize album includes 99 photographs of Istanbul (then known as Constaninople) and environs. Compiled in 1869, it contains handwritten captions in French.

The album itself bears the tuğra, or imperial monogram, of sultan Abdülaziz on its cover, and thus indicates that its makers were closely associated with the palace. The photographers who compiled this album, the Abullah Frères, were three Armenian brothers, Viçen, Hovsep, and Kevork.

Dr. Thomas Evans, the founder of the Dental School, worked as the doctor for the French royal family (more information about the Evans collections). In this capacity, he accompanied Eugénie, empress of the French, on her trip to Egypt to inaugurate the Suez Canal in 1869. He may have received the album at this time.

The presentation will investigate the contents of the album, present information about its creators, and speculate on its provenance.

Event Series

Elzevier Collection duodecimos.

From the Kislak Stacks

These monthly lunchtime presentations by Kislak curators, faculty, and students focus on individual works or small archives and collections found among the holdings of the Kislak Center.

Image above: Cover of Constantinople ancienne et moderne (Ms. Coll. 445)