Reviews

Great Photographers of the Ottoman Empire Part 4

 

Polycarpe Joaillier 1848-1904

By Ismail Veli……..

Polycarpe Joaillier a French photographer was based in Constantinople. He was one of the most diverse photographers in the Ottoman Empire.

His photos ranged from scenic, historic and religious buildings, Palaces and above all photos of Middle Eastern natives. Following the death of Sébah Pascal in 1886 he teamed up with Jean Pascal the son of the legendary Sébah. The partnership which was called  Sébah & Joaillier went on to become one of the most successful and famous photographic studios in the Ottoman Empire. They were also the official photographers of the Ottoman Sultan. I particularly think their amazing photos of local and upper class people during the period 1890-1900 have left us a clear vision of the way of life, dress, costume, poverty and wealthy individuals that give us an insight into conditions of Ottoman life during the period in question.

In 1889 The German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II with his wife, the queen Augusta Victoria, were on a state visit to Constantinople. Sultan Abdul Hamid II, greeted them as friends. The photographers during their visit were Sébah & Joaillier. The visiting Royals were so impressed they awarded the partners ”The Prussian Palace award for Photography”. This became the studio’s most prized gift for excellence. Sadly Sébah Pascal was not alive to witness this great achievement by his young son and his partner, but must have been looking down from heaven with a smile at the amazing photographic quality he taught his son. In 1901 the Sultan honoured the Kaiser by naming a fountain at the Sultan Ahmet Mosque ”The German Fountain/or Kaiser Wilhelm Fountain”. It was actually built in Germany but brought to Turkey by ship and inaugurated on 27th January on the Emperor’s birthday. The photographers for the occasion were Sébah & Joaillier

Many of the postcards and photos of the studio at the time have been reprinted time and again. On my last visit to the Istanbul Grand Bazaar, I explored the book market just outside the bazaar, to my delight I found some delightful books of Ottoman photos, and reprints of the cards by Sébah & Joaillier. On first inspection I thought the cards may simply be imaginary glimpses of old Constantinople. The reason was because there were many buildings with French and English posters. After closer study and a little research I discovered that many of the foreign shops doing business in the part of the city called Kadikoy were in fact an amazing array of internationally owned and racial diversity which clearly reflected the massive multicultural nature of the city.   The Sébah & Joaillier partnership though successful only lasted for 10 years. Joaillier returned to Paris in 1900 and sadly died soon after in 1904.

Many famous images of Constantinople which many tourists buy in the form of postcards today have their origins in the amazing work that the Sébah & Joaillier partnership produced. The Galata Bridge, Agia Sofia, Dolma Bahce, Kucuksu Kasri, the Bosphorus to name a few. Sadly many people today do not know the origins or the history of these great men. But with the growing influence and readily found information on the internet the awareness and legacy of these great photographers will no doubt continue to help raise awareness. That at least is one positive aspect of the internet.

 

4 replies »

  1. Hi. I just wish to mention that Joaillier didn’t return to France, he passed away in Istanbul and he was buried at the Pangalti Latin Catholic Cemetery.

    • Thank you for your observations Fabrizio. It’s true that Joaillier is buried at the Ferikoy Latin Catholic cemetery in Istanbul but a few sources do state that he returned to Paris after the partnership with Sebah was dissolved. His son Gustav continued in his fathers footsteps by opening a studio in Paris at 51 Rue De Clichy in 1905. It seems likely that Joaillier returned to Istanbul before his untimely death at 55 years of age.

      Grazie per le tue osservazioni

      • Tesekkur ederim, cevabinizi cok gec gordum.
        Ben Polycarpe Joaillier nin 5.kusak oz torunuyum. Aile bilgilerimizde Fransa ya dondugune dair bilgi bulunmamaktadir. Olmeden once oglu Gustave ortakligi devraldi ve ogul Sebah ile birkac sene devam ettiler. 1899 da rakipleri Abdullah Freres studyosunu satin alip devam etmislerdi, 1900 de ortakligin bitmesini muhtemel gormuyorum kaldi ki olumunden birkac sene sonra Iskender ailesi satin alip ismi Foto Sabah olarak devam edip 1950 de kapandi.
        Paris de studio acan Edmond, Gustave degil, 20 Avenue de Clichy. Gustave 1.dunya savasindan sonra Marsilya ya yerlesti, Paris te oldu, belki kardesi Edmond ile bir sure hayatinin sonuna dogru beraber studyoyu isletmis olabilirler bu konuda net bilgi yok ama studyo Edmond adina dir.
        Malum bu aciklamalari yaparken aile kayitlari, evraklari, kilise ve konsolosluk belgelerini baz almaktayim.
        Tabii baska bilgiler de mevcut elimde belgeleri ile. Mesela bir ihtimal de olsa Fransiz kokenli olmayabilirler ama Fransiz ismi kullanmis olabilirler baska yerel aileler gibi. Soyadi dogdugunda farkli olup daha sonra bu soyadi secmis olma ihtimali de mevcut. Bunlarin hepsi arastirma safhasinda. Kesin bilgi ise Fransa nin korumasi altinda idi aile ve Osmanli Devleti kendilerini Fransiz kabul ediyordu.
        Ve bence en onemlisi, butun dunyada tek bilinen portresi mevcut, kabristandaki, siz de eklemissiniz yaziniza. Ailem harici kimsenin simdiye kadar gormedigi bir portresini umarim halen yazmakta oldugum kitaba ekleyip bir dunya premiere’i yapmayi umit ediyorum.
        Ailemle ilgili yaptiginiz calisma icin tebrik ve tesekkur ederim.

      • Genis ve kapsamli bilgiler icin tesekkurler Fabrizio. Demekki kitablarda yazan bilgilerde hatta var.

        Kitabini ve doğru bilgileri ögrenmek titizlikle bekleriz