** photography and publishing: photographers -- Felix Bonfils

Photographers: The Bonfils (Middle East: Levant, 1867-about 1900)

Figure 1.-- The title od this photograph was, "Jeune fellah sur un Bufflo" (Young peasant on a buffalo). It was signed by Bonfils. It was photograph was number 744. "Fellah" (plural Fellahin) is the term for peasants in the Middle East. Muslim adults wear long clothing, but young boys can traditionally go naked. This is seen as an indicator of poverty.

Felix Bonfils (1831-1885) was active as a photographer (1860-1880). He moved from France to Lebanon (1867) and established a studio in Beirut which at the time was part of the Ottoman Empire. Bonfils photographed extensively in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Greece. His photographs were used to sell to tourists and to Europeans desiring photographs of exotic places (especially the Levant) to put into scrapbooks. He reported a stock of 600 negatives (1871). His son Adrian began operating the studio (1878). He also signed his negatives with the signature "BONFILS" that his father used. So older Bonfils photographs up to #600 are from Felix Bonfils. The higher numbers are from Adrian. The company Bonfils existed until to the end of the 19th century. The provide some of the earliest photographic records of the Levant. One of the noticeable observations from their work is the poverty and backwardnesses of Ottoman provinces like Palestine. Photography throughout the 19th century was a occupation dominated by Europeans throughout the Levant. We have not yet found a Palestinian Arab photograoher.


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Created: 6:19 AM 8/25/2008
Last updated: 6:13 AM 8/27/2008