Monday, 15 September 2008

Ship's Captain at Port Said, Suez Canal

Diana Burns has an old album containing a number of portraits of ship's captains. Most appear to be Scottish, although the photographs were mostly taken at studios in San Francisco (California, United States). I will be featuring some of these portraits over the next few weeks, in the hope that some reader may eventually be able to add to the little information we have been able to garner about the seafarers and the ships they captained.

Image © and courtsey of Diana Burns

The first cabinet card is a full-length portrait of an unidentified man with moustache and side whiskers, dressed in a double-breasted coat with markings on the cuffs suggesting that he was a ship's officer of some sort. Unfortunately, his ship's name is not recorded. The studio setting is fairly basic, comprising a plain unpainted backdrop, a standard diamond-pattern carpet, and a rather ornate studio chair. The card mount has rounded corners, andf I believe that it was probably taken in the mid-1870s.

Image © and courtsey of Diana Burns

The reverse of the card mount shows the studio name of Hippolyte Arnoux of Port Said, which was in Egypt, at the northern end of the Suez Canal. Arnoux made his reputation as a photographer documenting the excavation and construction of the Suez Canal between 1859 and 1869, publishing the photographs as the Album du Canal de Suez, which is advertised on the reverse of the card mount. Also pictured on the reverse is a representation of one of the dredges used in the exavation of the canal, similar to that pictured in an albumen print published by Arnoux and shown below.


Although Arnoux is best remembered for his views of the canal development, he was also a portrait photographer, having a studio at the Place Ferdinand de Lesseps in Port Said, and a dark room housed on a boat moored on the canal. He produced commercial photographs of ancient Egyptian monuments and Cairo buildings, as well as local types and ethnographic portraits, such as the Arabian Knife Grinder and his Client, the Water Carrier, the Arabian Barber, Jewish Woman, Turkish Woman and Arabian Dancer, which were popular with tourists and other travellers. It is believed that he travelled extensively in Aden, Jerusalem, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia, taking photographs for sale. He was for a time in partnership with other Port Said photographers, including the Zangaki brothers, George and Constantine, and Antonio Beato. He operated until at least 1890.

References

Hippolyte Arnoux by Wikipedia

Hippolyte Arnoux and the Zangaki Brothers by Luminous Lint

Hippolyte Arnoux, Photographer of a Great Enterprise from The Fondation Napoléon

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