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Collection Overview

Creator:
Robertson, James, 1813-1888
Collector:
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Title:
James Robertson photographs collection
Repository:
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/5138jh46n
Dates:
circa 1854
Size:
1 box and 1 linear foot
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1
Language:
English

Abstract

James Robertson was one of the first prominent traveller-photographers to depict scenes of mid-nineteenth century Greece. Of Scottish descent, he has been identified as the engraver James Robertson, who worked in London around 1830. He first settled in Constantinople in 1841, where he spent forty years of his life working as a master engraver in the imperial mint. His photography career began in the early 1850's when he opened a photographer's studio in Peran, the European district of Constantinople. His photographs, which were immediately popular among the art lovers of his period, appeared in international exhibitions in Paris and London and were frequently reproduced in the leading periodical "The London Illustrated News". He died in 1888 in Yokohama. Robertson earned his place in the history of photography with his coverage of the Crimean war, and with his photographs of Constantinople and other historical Mediterranean sites, such as Athens, Malta, Damascus, Egypt and the Holy Land. A close study of his work in Athens reveals that he first visited the city in 1853-1854 and probably returned later with Felice Beato, another renowned, somewhat younger, photographer. The monuments of the Acropolis (Propylaea, Temple of Athena Nike, Parthenon, Erechtheum) and the city of Athens (Temple of Olympian Zeus, Tower of the Winds, Gate of Athena Archegetis, Lysicrates Monument) as well as the Temples of Poseidon in Sounion, Aphaia on the island of Aegina, and Apollo in Corinth were magnificently portrayed by his camera while contemporary Athens was only infrequently depicted or used as a setting for its ancient remains. Although he rarely photographed people in his early work, in later work he handled them with consummate skill as a means of alleviating the monotony of ancient ruins and as an allusion to contemporary paintings. (http://www.benaki.gr/index.asp?id=1020101&lang=en) Consists of an open collection of photographs of Robertson.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists of an open collection of photographs of Robertson. Currently, there are 4 albumen prints mounted on board of classical sites in Athens, Greece. Included are: a general view of the Acropolis (23.5 x 30.4 cm.); the Erechtheum from the west (25.1 x 29.9 cm); the main Propylaea building from the east (24.8 x 30.2 cm.); and a view of the Parthenon from the northwest (22.9 x 30.0 cm.). All the images are captioned and three are signed in the print.

Collection Creator Biography:

Robertson, James, 1813-1888

James Robertson was one of the first prominent traveller-photographers to depict scenes of mid-nineteenth century Greece. Of Scottish descent, he has been identified as the engraver James Robertson, who worked in London around 1830. He first settled in Constantinople in 1841, where he spent forty years of his life working as a master engraver in the imperial mint. His photography career began in the early 1850's when he opened a photographer's studio in Peran, the European district of Constantinople. His photographs, which were immediately popular among the art lovers of his period, appeared in international exhibitions in Paris and London and were frequently reproduced in the leading periodical "The London Illustrated News". He died in 1888 in Yokohama. Robertson earned his place in the history of photography with his coverage of the Crimean war, and with his photographs of Constantinople and other historical Mediterranean sites, such as Athens, Malta, Damascus, Egypt and the Holy Land. A close study of his work in Athens reveals that he first visited the city in 1853-1854 and probably returned later with Felice Beato, another renowned, somewhat younger, photographer. The monuments of the Acropolis (Propylaea, Temple of Athena Nike, Parthenon, Erechtheum) and the city of Athens (Temple of Olympian Zeus, Tower of the Winds, Gate of Athena Archegetis, Lysicrates Monument) as well as the Temples of Poseidon in Sounion, Aphaia on the island of Aegina, and Apollo in Corinth were magnificently portrayed by his camera while contemporary Athens was only infrequently depicted or used as a setting for its ancient remains. Although he rarely photographed people in his early work, in later work he handled them with consummate skill as a means of alleviating the monotony of ancient ruins and as an allusion to contemporary paintings. (http://www.benaki.gr/index.asp?id=1020101&lang=en)

Collection History

Acquisition:

Acquired with matching funds provided by the Program in Hellenic Studies with the support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund. (AM 2011-33)

Appraisal

No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kalliopi Balatsouka in 2012. Finding aid written by Kalliopi Balatsouka in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

James Robertson photographs collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/5138jh46n
Location:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1