From the invention of the camera, photographers, like painters, have sought to portray other people, and early studio photographs, with their highly stylized props, poses, and costumes, offer a beguiling window onto the prevailing fashions, tastes, and attitudes of their time. The portraits in this book, Egyptian studio photos from the mid-nineteenth century to the Second World War, tell such a story, their popularity and art then driven by the burgeoning presence of photo studios across the country.
In their rich variety, they offer vivid evidence of the democratization of the image as access to the technology spread from members of Egypt’s royalty to an ever-wider circle of subjects. But, more than that, they freeze time, by capturing human subjects that are no longer there. These portraits, and the studios that created them, evoke haunting fragments of a vanished past and invite us to endless speculation and contemplation. In the age of the selfie, their power to speak to us from the mists of time cannot be overstated. Includes over 200 stunning images, from the work of 81 photographic studios.
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