ow, with photography, travelers could begin to capture such exotica with greater fidelity than was possible with pen and ink - though even the daguerreotype had limitations. A one-shot affair, the daguerreotype image was fixed forever upon a metal plate, and could not be readily reproduced. Engravers, therefore, still had to be brought in - initially to copy the work on a separate printing plate, later to engrave lines directly onto the photographic plate itself.

In 1841, the invention of the paper negative, or "calotype," by William Fox Talbot permitted the reproduction of multiple images from one original, but Daguerre's method which offered a sharper, more durable image, held sway among photographers until Frederick Scott Archer introduced a process using glass negatives in 1851. Prints could be made from these negatives, and then "tipped" onto the pages oft ravel books-i.e. pasted in by hand, in effect making each copy an album of original photographs.

ost of the earliest European photographers of the Middle East - Horace Vernet, Joly de Lotbiniere and others -were daguerreotypists, but Maxime Du Camp, who accompanied Flaubert on the poet's 1849-51 excursion to the Middle East, got excellent results with paper negatives, and Francis Frith, photographer and publisher, secured a firm place in the history of photography using glass negatives. As an Athenaeum critic wrote in 1858, "Mr. Frith, who makes light of everything, brings us the Sun's opinion of Egypt, which is better than Champollion's... Eothen's or Titmarsh's"

As for Frith, he deemed himself an artist in league with the sun, writing, "The Sun himself condescends to pigmify (the image),and pop it bodily into the boxw hich your artist provided". And at one point he gleefully recounted the envy of a French artisthe encountered atMedinetHabu:

When, in a few minutes, I had possessed myself of more accuracy than his labor of perhaps days would yield, he exclaimed with politeness-and (let us hope) with no dash of bitterness, nor scornfulnes, nor envy - 'Ah, Monsieur! que wus etes vite, vite!'

Acceptance of photography as a fine art was erratic, but it did catch on as a popular art. The Times of London proclaimed that Frith's photographs "carry us far beyond anything that is in the power of the most accomplished artist to transfer to his canvas," and Queen Victoria compiled 110 albums of photographs. Frith, meanwhile, had turned book publisher, and in addition to various portfolios and volumes of his pictures, brought out a special Queen's Bible in 1862-3. It featured 20 photographic views from his collection, and sold in a limited edition for 50 guineas, a very considerable sum at that time. The British Journal of Photography said Frith's books were "got up in a style that renders them fit ornament for any drawing room", and since the public agreed, Frith's enterprises prospered.

At the root of this popularity was the "awe and wonder with which Victorian viewers greeted Frith's startlingly truthful photographs of the most ancient and his- toric lands known to them", as historian Julia van Haaften wrote in an edition of Frith's Egyptian photographs. But there was another element too: the need for travelers to bring back souvenirs.

Toward the end of the 19th century, middle class Europeans were beginning to travel in such great numbers that some observers had begun to object. Journalist William Howard Russell, for example, protested in The Times that tourists "...crowd the sites which ought to be approached in reverential silence..."

[prev]                     [next]

al@mashriq           960312/960312