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|23 April, 2019

See world through 19th century photos at Louvre Abu Dhabi

The museum's first photography exhibition complements Abu Dhabi's colourful cultural landscape

Visitors are seen at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 19, 2017.

Visitors are seen at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 19, 2017.

REUTERS/Satish Kumar

An 1881 photo of the Holy City of Makkah and an image of a dead crocodile on a boat on the Nile in Egypt, are among the world's earliest photographs that will be on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi starting Thursday (April 25).

The museum's fourth exhibition of the cultural season - 'A World of Exchanges, Photographs 1842-1896: An Early Album of the World' - explores the development of photography in a rare display of ancient images taken by travellers and sailors in the Middle East, Asia, India and the Americas.

Running from Thursday until July 13, the first ever photography exhibition at the museum traces the evolution of photography as a form of documentation and an instrument of understanding the world and its people.

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The exhibition is set to immerse visitors of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in fascinating stories and discoveries, through its wide selection of historic images.

More than 250 of the earliest photographs in the world taken from 1842 to 1896, including images from 44 countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India, the Philippines and elsewhere, are featured at the exhibition.

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), said: "Louvre Abu Dhabi aims to tell the story of humanity, and photography is one of the most important tools that has contributed towards the documentation of the history of the world and its diverse cultures.

"The museum's first photography exhibition complements Abu Dhabi's colourful cultural landscape by giving visitors the opportunity to travel to new places and explore different regions of the world through the eyes of 19th-century travellers."

At a Press conference held to announce the details of the exhibition, Manuel Rabate, director of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, said: "We are inviting people back to the old days of photography. We have taken time to collect and select the beautiful photos that tell great stories from all over the world under one dome."

Part of the ancient photos are portraits of Algerian people in Paris taken in 1840s; an anonymous portrait of a boy in Mexico, which was taken in 1848; a portrait of a sailor Geledi, taken in Chad in 1847; and beautiful portraits of Indians in South America-Brazil taken in 1871.

The exhibition will display 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; Desire Charnay, an archaeologist who photographed the first pre-Hispanic sites in Mexico; Kassian Cephas, the first Indonesian to become a professional photographer; and Egyptian military engineer Muhammad Sadiq Bey, who took the first photographs of the places in the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah in 1881.

It also presents a visual record of Auguste Bartholdi's voyage to Egypt, Nubia (current day Sudan) and Palestine to photograph the principal monuments.

Christine Barthe, the exhibition's curator, said: "We had to shift focus and lead an extensive research to look towards new horizons of the birth of photography outside Europe and the US. This exhibition offers for the first time a global history of the first steps of photography, whose development in South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia reveals a fascinating play of difference and similarity.

"There has always been a natural connection between countries and this can be portrayed by images."

WHAT, WHERE, WHEN

>'A World of Exchanges, Photographs 1842-1896: An Early Album of the World'

Louvre Abu Dhabi

>From April 25 to July 13, 2019

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