Luxury Palestine Souvenir Album

(Bonfils, Félix). Jerusalem.

(Palestine, 1880s).

Oblong album (445 x 315 mm) with 71 large albumen photographic prints, mostly ca. 22 x 28 cm, signed and captioned in the negative (in French and English), mounted on both sides of the album's leaves. Includes a three-part folding panorama of Jerusalem from Mount Olivet, measuring 82 x 21 cms. Ornamental endpapers printed in gilt. Original auburn morocco with gilt upper cover. All edges gilt.


A rare and unusually massive Palestine souvenir album containing 71 photographs by the renowned studio of Félix Bonfils (1831-85), the French-born photographer who had come to the Levant with General d'Hautpoul in 1860 and remained active in the East. Based in Beirut, Bonfils produced thousands of photographs depicting Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Greece and other parts of the Ottoman Empire. In the early days of western tourism to the Middle East, his works soon became popular as souvenirs. The photographs were available both separately and as individually arranged albums, but sets of this scope were uncommon, very few exceeding fifty images. The sumptuous binding which the owner chose underlines that this was a luxury souvenir for a more than ordinarily wealthy traveller. It features landscapes and city views, famous sights such as Jaffa Gate (Bab el-Khalil), sites sacred to the three religions (Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Church of the Flagellation, Al-Aqsa Mosque, Mosque of Omar, Wailing Wall), but also sights outside Jerusalem, including Hebron, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, the River Jordan, Jericho, Wadi el-Kelt, Khan-el-Ahmar, Bethany, Nazareth, and Emmaus.

The photographs occasionally show some insignificant loss of contrast, but are altogether in good condition. A few edge flaws to the cardboard leaves, including a chafe mark across the lower edge where the paper has buckled. Binding in good condition, with occasional scuffing (more obvious on lower cover). A fine album of photographs of Palestine.