The album contains 117 albumen studio
portraits (104 cartes-de-visite and 13 cabinet cards) of people who inhabited the Ottoman
Empire in the second half of the nineteenth century taken by photographers with studios in
Constantinople (Istanbul). While the bulk of the photographs are by Pascal Sébah, 11
portraits by Rober Caracachian, and two photographs by Pascal's brother, Cosmi Sébah, are
Pascal Sébah (1823-1886) was born in Istanbul (then Constantinople). His father was a
Syrian Melkite Catholic, and his mother was Armenian. Sébah purportedly started his studies
for the priesthood in Venice, but dropped out and returned to Istanbul. How he obtained
training as a photographer is unknown. He opened his first photography studio, P. Sébah
& Cie at 10 rue Tom-Tom in 1856 or 1857. He soon renamed his studio El Chark Societé
Photographique ("The East"), and by 1860 moved to 232 Grande Rue de Péra, and sometime after
1868 to number 439 on the same street, all the while keeping the Tom-Tom premises as a
workshop. He also opened a branch on Jardin des Fleurs that was destroyed by fire in 1870.
As evidenced by the proliferation of its locations, Sébah's business became one of the most
successful studios in the city, due in large part to its popularity with the tourist trade.
Sébah's early work was in landscape photography - scenes and views - including panoramas of
Istanbul, but he was also in demand as a portrait photographer. His images catering to the
tourist trade included numerous studio portraits depicting the diversity of Istanbul's
1 Linear Feet
1 album (117 photographs)
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