Important and early photobook on the Near East

Frith, Francis. Egypt and Palestine. Photographed and described.

London, James S. Virtue, [1858-1859].

2 vols. Folio (328 x 447 mm). (8) pp.; (4) pp. of text; a total of 76 photographs on plates by Francis Frith (sizes ca. 145-165 x 215-230 mm), each with a separate leaf of text. Contemporary red morocco, spines and covers gilt. Marbled endpapers; all edges gilt.


First edition of this important and early photobook on the Near East. During the years 1856-59, Frith (1822-98) made three visits to Egypt and the Holy Land; this selection of his photographs, from wet-collodion 9 x 7 negatives taken with an 8-by-10 inch camera, was published in 25 fascicles of 3 prints each, a work hailed as "one of the most renowned nineteenth-century photobooks" (The Photobook). Most of these images are dated 1857 either in the plate or the printed caption. They include a portrait of the artist in oriental costume and views of Abu Simbel, Aswan, Baalbek, Bethlehem, Damascus, Giza, Hebron, Jerusalem, Karnak, Luxor, Nazareth, Philae, Tiberias, Wadi Kardassy etc. The preliminaries of vol. 1 include title, introduction, table of contents, and subscribers, those of vol. 2 encompass title and contents. Each plate is accompanied by a full-page letterpress description. "Francis Frith is undoubtedly one of the best-known photographers to work in the Near East. His trips to the Levant were a brilliant commercial success as well as an artistic one" (Perez 163).

Some foxing to blank margins, as well as to a few photographs. Modern bookplate of the German anthropologist Jasper Köcke. Bindings very slightly rubbed, but hinges somewhat brittle; unobtrusive chafe-mark to upper cover of vol. 2. Overall a fine, appealingly bound copy.

The Photobook I, 28. Blackmer 1942. Hannavy 561. Gernsheim, History 286. Perez, Focus East 165. Van Haaften-White XII & XV.