Louvre AD: See what Makkah looked like in the mid-1800s

By Angel Chan

Display of the world’s earliest photographs

ABU DHABI 24 April 2019: Explore the development of photography in its first years of existence, in a rare display of some of the earliest images taken by travellers and sailors in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, India and the Americas.

Running until 13 July 2019, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s ‘A World of Exchanges, Photographs 1842 – 1896: An Early Album of the World’, traces the dissemination of photography as a form of presentation and documentation, and an instrument of discovering and understanding the world and its people, through a wide selection of over 250 historic photographs taken between 1842 and 1896.

Organised by Louvre Abu Dhabi, musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac and Agence France-Muséums, and sponsored by the Bank of Sharjah, the exhibition includes some of the earliest photographs produced outside of Europe. The works on display include exceptional loans from musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Bibliothèque nationale de France, musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet, l’Etablissement public du Musée d’Orsay, la Société de Géographie and La Cité de la Céramique – Sèvres & Limoges. The exhibition is curated by Christine Barthe, Head of the Photographic Collections Heritage Unit at the musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, said Wam.

The exhibition displays works by prominent international photographers, including Charles Guillain, a French ship’s captain who took part in a diplomatic voyage down the coast of Africa in 1847-48; Désiré Charnay, an archaeologist who photographed the first pre-Hispanic sites in Mexico; Marc Ferrez, the first Brazilian photographer to receive international recognition; William Ellis, an English missionary who travelled through Madagascar; Lai Afong a Chinese photographer who established one of the early photographic studios in Hong Kong; Kassian Cephas, the first Indonesian to become a professional photographer, and Egyptian military engineer Muhammad Sadiq Bey, who took the first photographs of the Holy Places in Medina and Mecca circa 1881. The exhibition also presents a visual record of Auguste Bartholdi’s voyage to Egypt, Nubia (current day Sudan) and Palestine to photograph the principal monuments. This collection was his first and last interaction with the medium of photography, before he went on to sculpt the Statue of Liberty.

La Maharani du Népal et ses suivantes.

Alongside the exhibition, Louvre Abu Dhabi will host a range of educational and cultural activities around the theme of photography, including workshops, four film screenings, a conference and a cine-concert entitled In the Land of the Head Hunters, after the name of the movie directed by American photographer and ethnologist Edward S. Curtis on 25 and 26 of April. In this unique live concert, French musician Rodolphe Burger performs his musical interpretation of one of the most beautiful silent-movies ever made. Mixing electronic and Native American music, Burger improvises the score for this rare 1914 movie masterpiece, a Native American version of Romeo and Juliet, where love leads to war and murder.

Dubai Gazette