In 1862, the Prince of Wales, eldest son of Britain’s Queen Victoria, embarked on a grand tour of the Middle East, for his education and enlightenment. Accompanying the royal party was Francis Bedford, an accomplished practitioner of the still young art of photography, charged with taking views of the cities and historic places visited on the tour for the royal album. The result is an extraordinary collection of some of the best early photographs of Cairo and the temples of Upper Egypt, Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Lebanon and Damascus, Izmir and Constantinople. From timeless views of the Pyramids, the Dome of the Rock, Baalbek, and Hagia Sophia to scenes from another age of the streets of Cairo or tall ships on the Bosphorus, 120 of Bedford’s most outstanding photographs are showcased here in this fascinating visual tour of ancient lands in royal company.
Francis Bedford (1815–94) was an English architect and lithographer who took up the new art of photography in the early 1850s and began fulfilling royal commissions for Queen Victoria in 1857. In 1862 he was appointed official photographer to the Prince of Wales’s tour of the Middle East, and his photographs from this trip were critically acclaimed. His London photographic studio prospered until his death in 1894.
Sophie Gordon is senior curator of photographs at Royal Collection Trust and has published widely on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century photography.
Badr El Hage is an independent photo-historian who has worked as a freelance writer and curator in the Middle East.
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