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Die Ethnophotographie in den von Rumänen Bewohnten Gebieten im 19. Jahrhundert

Author(s): Adrian-Silvan Ionescu

Journal: Revue Roumaine d'Histoire de l'Art : Série Beaux-Arts
ISSN 0556-8080

Issue: XLVII;
Start page: 63;
Date: 2010;
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Ethno-photography had its birth in Romania in time of war, while the Oriental Question was debated by sword and fire among Russians and Turks, in what should be later called the Crimean War. But its first battles were fought on the borders of Lower Danube in 1853-1854. During the occupation of the Romanian Principalities by the Austrian army after the Russians left the country in 1854, a military druggist, Ludwing Angerer, took photography as his pastime. His main topics were Bucharest cityscapes and folk types he encountered on the streets of the Wallachian capital. Most of his pictures were taken in 1856.Carol Szathmari, the outstanding Bucharest-based photographer, began his series with folk types and peasant costumes in almost the same period. He was well known throughout Europe for his war photographs which he exhibited at the 1855 Paris Exposition Universelle. He produced a large series of pictures with peasants from different areas of the country, with gypsies, postillions, street vendors and artisans. He toured the fairs and the crowded streets of the town in search of picturesque types. Some of his pictures were used as basis for lithographs which he drew himself on stone and printed in his own workshop. Szathmari’s albums were displayed, with great success, at both the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris and the 1873 Welt Ausstelung in Vienna. For getting the membership of the Société Française de Photographie, in 1864 he presented that organization with a selection of his peasant types which are still preserved in their collection. Since 1870 he was also a member of the Vienna Photographic Society. Szathmari was not the only photographer in the Romanian Principalities who did such compositions: Franz Duschek and Andreas D. Reiser in Bucharest, K.F. Zipser in Craiova and Cecilia Cavallar in Câmpulung Muscel where the most skilled in dealing with such topics. On the other side of the Carpathian Mountains, in Transylvania, there were many studio photographers who gladly left their routine work for travelling in the countryside in search of picturesque costumes and human types. Outstanding for their collections were Theodor Glatz from Sibiu and Carl Koller from Bistriţa who cooperated since 1860 for acquiring a large portfolio of peasant portraits from the adjacent area of their hometowns. Together they edited a very interesting carte-de-visit series with Transylvanian peasants. After Glatz’s death, his studio and glass plates were left to his niece, Kamilla Asboth, a photographer herself, who continued to make copies and sell under her own name those colourful images with Transylvanian peasants in their traditional attire. Wilhelm Auerlich and Emil Fischer were also fond of this kind of topics at the turn of the century. In 1906 and 1907 Auerlich took pictures at the First and Second Children Exhibitions held in Apold and, respectively, Ilimbav while Fischer followed on his steps and portrayed the winners of the 1908 and 1912 Children Exhibitions held in Poiana Sibiului and, respectively, Răşinari. At the fashionable resort of Herculane, in the Banat area, Carl Schäffer was quite active in the same field between 1860s and 1880s. Along with his studio portraits taken for wealthy bath-goers he edited series of carte-de-visit with folk types. His models were posed sometimes from the back in order to reveal the gorgeous costume’s details. Alexandru Bellu was the best example of the late 19th century Romanian amateur photographer. Being a wealthy landlord of noble descent, Bellu took photography in 1870s as his favorite pastime. In late 1880s he devoted all his time to picturing peasant women and gypsies from his estate of Urlaţi, Prahova County. Bellu’s pictures became fashionable around the turn of the century. They were successfully displayed at the 1906 Romanian General Exhibition in Bucharest. Most of them were multiplied and sold as picture postcards on that occasion.
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