Sensitive Portraits of Iraqi Citizens

[Iraq. - Warren, Christopher (attrib.)]. A collection of photographs, taken by a British Intelligence Officer in Iraq.

[Iraq, but some printed in London, ca. 1930s].

36 vintage small format silver gelatin photographs, plus a photographic postcard of Faisal II as a boy.


A small collection of highly accomplished amateur photos of inter-war Iraq. With a handful of exceptions, the photographs show the local population, often children, recorded with a sensitive and sympathetic eye.

Though there is no material evidence to support the attribution, they came from a collection of similar material said to belong to Christopher Warren, who worked as an Intelligence Officer in Iraq, Lebanon and Kuwait in the 1930s. Other photographs, offered for sale at the same time as these, show that he was active in those locations and was, at one point, based at Dar Al Qamar (Moon House), Karradat Mariam, Baghdad.

The many intimate and beautiful portraits would suggest the photographer spoke Arabic and understood enough about his subjects to foment the mutual comfort necessary for such candid images. Several show young people from both the city and the countryside: the sons of shop-owners at ease in the hustle and bustle of Baghdad and children gathering crops, hunting and playing reed flutes in the open expanse of the desert. Some, such as the portrait of a suited young man in a local boat, potentially imply a professional relationship. Viewed together, the images express a peacefulness far removed from the tensions of the interwar period, in which protests against British influence were common, even after the independence of the country in 1932. Only a photographic postcard, present with the images, reminds one of the broader historical context: a portrait of Faisal II, still a child but standing upright in military dress.

All photographs clearly removed from an album, with residual scraps of brown album paper to versos.

Stock Code: BN#57307 Tags: , ,