Biographical / Historical
Related Archival Materials
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Henri Joseph Sauvaire photographs from the duc de Luynes's second expedition to the
Date (inclusive): 1866
Sauvaire, Henri Joseph,
3.75 Linear Feet
(73 photographs in 3 boxes)
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
The collection comprises a complete set
of albumen prints corresponding to the 73 exposures on paper negatives taken by Henri Joseph
Sauvaire between April 7 and May 14, 1866 during the second expedition to the Holy Land
sponsored by the duc de Luynes.
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Language: Collection material is in
Biographical / Historical
Henri Joseph Sauvaire was a French diplomat, numismatist, Orientalist and amateur
photographer. He was born in Marseilles on March 15, 1831, and was raised by his merchant
uncle and guardian, Maurius Sauvaire, whose extensive dealings in Beirut and the Middle East
exposed him to the Arabic world at an early age.
After receiving his baccalauréat in 1848 from the Facilté des Lettres d'Aix-en-Provence,
Sauvaire studied Arabic at the Lycée Thiers in Marseilles. He began his career in the French
consular service as a chancellery clerk in Alexandria in 1857. In 1865, he was named first
dragoman in Alexandria, and was also made a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur. Sauvaire lived
in the Middle East from 1857 to 1883, holding posts in Beirut, Jerusalem, Syria, and Egypt.
His last appointment was in Casablanca, Morocco, where, in 1876, he was promoted to the
position of Consul.
Sauvaire took up photography as a hobby in the late 1850s and joined the Société de
Photographie in Marseilles in 1860 as a corresponding member. He circulated among the
amateur "Orientalist" photographers practicing in the Middle East and France. In the early
1860s he made several photographs of the Orientalist painter, Camille Rogier, including
portraits of him alone, with his family, in tableaux vivants staged in the artist's Beirut
studio, and present in scenes shot in and around Beirut and Lebanon. Examples of these
images can be found in the Musée d'Orsay. Sauvaire was also well-known for his architectural
and archaeological views of the Middle East, which he exhibited and published in France.
Sauvaire acted as the photographer for the duc de Luynes's second expedition to the Holy
Land. Luynes's desire to record all aspects of the Dead Sea basin – biological,
climatological, historical, archaeological – had already resulted in his sponsorship of an
expedition in 1864 to that region which included himself, naturalist, Louis Lartet,
physician, Gustave Combe, and photographer, Louis Vignes. In 1866, Luynes's continued
interest in the largely-unexplored biblical and later Christian sites of the area led him to
send the architect, Charles Mauss, who was then directing the restoration of the Crusader
church of Saint Anne and the cupola of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and
Sauvaire on a second expedition, this time to Transjordan to explore and record the Crusader
castles once part of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, especially Kerak Castle at Al-Karak
and Montréal in Shoubak.
Eschewing the fragility and weight of collodion or albumen glass plate negatives, and well
aware of the problems that environmental conditions could cause when using them, Sauvaire
chose instead to photograph using paper negatives. This proved to be a fortuitous decision,
not the least since on April 13, less than a week into the journey, the two mules carrying
Sauvaire's luggage and photographic equipment collapsed in the middle of a river. In the
course of the five-week expedition Sauvaire made 73 negatives, on some days managing to make
eight ten- to –fifteen-minute exposures after first preparing the negative paper and then
carrying his heavy equipment up a hill before setting up his camera and preparing for each
shot. Sauvaire also carried out epigraphic surveys, translating the inscriptions he found,
and helped Mauss with his surveys.
Luynes was well-pleased with the work accomplished by the team. In a letter to Sauvaire
dated 7 June 1866, presumably after Luynes had received the materials Sauvaire produced
during the expedition, he wrote to the diplomat, "Your talents as epigraphist and
photographer have been instrumental in conferring great value on the exploration undertaken,
by virtue of the authentic evidence with which you have provided it" (excerpted in Foliot,
"Louis Vignes and Henry Sauvaire…").
Sauvaire and Mauss published their combined travel accounts as "De Karak à Chaubak: extrait
du journal de voyage de MM. Mauss et Sauvaire," in the
Bulletin de la
Société de géographie
(vol. 14, July-December 1867). Their accounts also appeared
in the second volume of the duc de Luynes's three-volume publication
Voyage d'exploration à la mer Morte, à Petra, et sur la rive gauche de Jourdain
(1874) as "Voyage de Jerusalem à Karak et à Chaubak." Fourteen of Sauvaire's photographs
were reproduced as lithographs by Eugène Cicéri for the accompanying
Atlas (eight of the 12 prints depicting Kerak Castle are erroneously attributed
Over the course of his life in the Middle East Sauvaire assembled a large collection of
Arabic manuscripts and coins. Many of his scholarly publications, such as
Histoire de Jérusalem et d'Hébron depuis Abraham jusqu'à à la fin du XVe
siecle de J.-C.: fragments de la chronique de Moudjir-ed-din traduits sur le texte
(1876), were translations and commentaries on Arabic manuscripts. He also
wrote extensively on Muslim numismatics and metrology. Between 1875 and 1882, he published a
series of articles in
Journal asiatique titled "Matériaux
pour servir à l'histoire de la numismatique et de la mé́trologie musulmanes, traduits, ou
recueillis et mis en ordre" in which he assembled and organized a large and scattered body
of historical sources. The "Matériaux" has since served as a standard reference for the
study of Islamic numesmatics and meterology. Regarding the "Matériaux," Gustave
Schlumbereger noted in his eulogy of Sauvaire published in the
Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres
(1896), "Thanks to his tireless research, we now have a complete and reasoned inventory of
all weights, of all the measures in use in Muslim countries throughout the Middle Ages and
until modern times. His work is an inexhaustible mine of information for the lexicography,
the language of law and the history of Arab civilization."
In 1883, Sauvaire retired at Robernier, France, near Marseilles, where he continued to take
photographs and publish articles on Arabic subjects such as his "Description de Damas," an
abridgment of the
Tanbīh al-țālib of al-Nu'aimī, published in
Journal asiatique (1894-1896). In 1889, the Académie des
Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres bestowed the title of Correspondent upon him. Sauvaire passed
away at his home on April 4, 1896.
-"Obituary Notice: Henri Sauvaire,"
Journal of the Royal Asiatic
Society of Great Britain and Ireland for 1896
. London: Published by the Society:
Henri Sauvaire (1831-1896): Voyage d'exploration à
Hebron, Karak, Djafar, El-Heca, Chaubak, Dausak, Twahné et Zatt-Rass
Daniel Blau, 2015. https://issuu.com/danielblau5/docs/buch_sauvaire_90dpi.
Foliot, Philippe, "Louis Vignes and Henry Sauvaire, Photographers on the Expeditions of the
Duc de Luynes,"
History of Photography, vol. 14, no. 3: p.
-"Vignes, Sauvaire, Placet, Nègre and the Duc de Luynes."
Art of the
Font-Réaulx, Dominique de, "Sauvaire, Henri (1831-1896)," in John Hannavy (ed.),
Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-century Photography. New York:
Routledge, 2008: vol. 2, p. 1244.
Schlumberger, Gustave, "Éloge funèbre de M. Henri-Joseph Sauvaire, correspondant de
Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des
Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres
, 40ͤ année, N. 2, 1896: p.151-153.
Restricted. Contact the repository for information regarding access.
Henri Joseph Sauvaire photographs from the duc de Luynes's second expedition to the Holy
Land, 1866, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2019.R.32.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Acquired in 2019.
The collection was processed by Beth Ann Guynn in 2020. She also wrote the finding aid.
The collection was digitized in 2020 and the images are available online:
Related Archival Materials
The repository holds the original paper negatives made by Henri-Joseph Sauvaire on the
expedition, along with his original handwritten inventory of the negatives. These items can
be found in Materials relating to the duc de Luynes's expedition to the Dead Sea region,
accession no. 2019.M.20.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection comprises a complete set of albumen prints corresponding to the 73 exposures
on paper negatives taken by Henri Joseph Sauvaire between April 7 and May, 14, 1866, during
the second expedition to the Holy Land sponsored by Honoré d'Albert, duc de Luynes, in this
case specifically to explore the Crusader castles and ancient sites of southern Jordan.
The first photographs Sauvaire took present views of the al-Ibrahimi and al-Bakka mosques
in Hebron, where the expedition stopped after leaving Jerusalem before traveling southeast
to the city of Al-Karak (Qīr Mōav). At Al-Karak, Sauvaire extensively photographed the
castle, the town and its ruined mosque, while Mauss surveyed the castle site. The men then
began a two-week tour across the Karak Plateau, traveling south to the Crusader castle at
Chaubak (Shoubak). Along the way, Sauvaire photographed the tomb and ruins of the mosque
dedicated to Ja'far ibn Abi Talib, a cousin of Muhammad and an early convert to Islam, at
Djafar (Al Mazāār Al Janbūt) and a trade route fort at Kalat el Heça. While Mauss was
exploring the mosque ruins at Djafar, Sauvaire unearthed inscriptions dating the building to
At Chaubak, Sauvaire was only able to photograph the exterior of the castle, known as
Montréal, from below the round hilltop on which it is situated, as the local inhabitants did
not allow the party close access to the site. One view includes the expedition's camp at the
base of the hill. The expedition returned to Al-Karak along a different route from whence it
came, allowing Sauvaire to photograph the ruins of a caravanserai at Dausak and the
late-Roman temple at Twahné (Twahne). Sauvaire's final photographs of the expedition are of
the Nabatean or Roman temples at Zat-Rass (Dhat Ras). In addition to documenting the ancient
sites visited by the expedition, Sauvaire's photographs include portraits of Mohammed
Midjaly, sheikh of Al-Karak, and of his son and cousin, as well as a view of a Bedouin
encampment near Djafar.
At the end of the handwritten inventory accompanying his original paper negatives Sauvaire
records the number of images he took at each site (and its general environs) as follows:
Hebron–8; Karak–47; Djafar-3; el Heça-2; Chaubak-5; Dausak-1; Twahné-1; Zat-Rass-6 (see:
"Voyage à Karnak et à Chaubak. Nomenclature des photographies prise pendant le voyage,"
special collections accession no. 2019.M.20). The titles of the photographs as found in this
finding aid are taken from this inventory. Place names are thus in Sauvaire's
nineteenth-century French, with the modern place name, when different, given in parentheses
at the heading for each site.
Arranged in a single series:
Series I. Henri Joseph Sauvaire
photographs from the duc de Luynes's second Expedition to the Holy Land, 1866.
Subjects - Topics
Castles -- Jordan
Temples, Roman -- Jordan
Mosques -- West Bank
Subjects - Places
West Bank -- Description and travel
Jordan -- Description and travel
Qīr Mōav -- Antiquities
Genres and Forms of Material
Albumen prints -- Jordan -- 19th century
Albumen prints -- West Bank -- 19th century
Sauvaire, Henri Joseph,