Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

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:
1854
Size:
1 box and 1 linear foot
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): 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

Description:

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:

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:

Purchase: 2010 .

Archival Appraisal Information:

No appraisal information is available.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

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