|"Exterior of Haram-Ash-Sharif, Wailing place of the Jews" by Peter Bergheim|
(1865). The newly available photo allows us to explore details usually not seen
Bergheim established a photographic studio in the Christian Quarter. A
converted Jew, he was well aware of Jerusalem's holy sites.
The advent of ocean-going steamships and tourism to the Holy Land and the development of photography all went hand-in-hand in the latter half of the 19th century. Tourism encouraged photography and photographs encouraged tourists, explained photography curator Kathleen Stewart Howe, author of The Photographic Exploration of Palestine.
|Enlargement shows memorial graffiti on the |
Western Wall with the names “Eliyahu, Elka,
Sharf, Shaul” The two figures may have been
models; indeed it is impossible to tell if the
seated, veiled and gloved individual is a man
While the first people to look at Palestine through a lens were amateur photographers and missionaries in the 1840s, by the 1860s professional photographers began to visit holy sites and even establish photo studios. Military explorers and surveyors often used the services of the photographers.
|The "wall of wailing" by Frank Mason Good. The Library of Congress dates the photo|
as published in 1881. The authoritative Palestine Exploration Fund records that it was
taken by Good during his first trip to the Near East in 1866/67. Good's panoramic
picture of Jerusalem appears as the title photo of this website above.
Among the tourists were Mark Twain and his “Innocents Abroad” companions in 1867. His party stayed at the same Old City Mediterranean Hotel as a British survey team headed by Lt. Charles Warren.
The American Colony settlers who arrived in 1881 eventually established a tourist store inside the Jaffa Gate in the Old City where they sold their photographs. They capitalized on the fierce demand for pictures of the German emperor’s visit to Jerusalem in 1898.
|"Wailing place of the Jews, Solomon's Wall," Jerusalem. The|
Library of Congress dates the picture in the 1890s and doesn't
name the photographer. But the name Bonfils can be seen in the
enlarged photo. Other similar photos in the Getty collection prove
that Frenchman Felix Bonfils was the photographer and that the
picture was taken in 1869. Bonfils died in 1885.
In response to our recent inquiries, the head of the Photo Research Division explained, “Our legal counsel has asked us to allow 130 years to elapse before displaying larger images outside Library of Congress. Based on the available information, I was able … to display outside Library of Congress buildings for some of the images you mention.”
These photographs are presented here and are now available to the public Online. The old glass plate photographic technique, rather than paper and film, provides viewers with an amazing enlargement capability.
|"Exterior of the Haram-Ash-Sharif. Wailing place of the Jews,"|
by Peter Bergheim (1865). View a similar picture here
This collection of 19th century photographs presents a portrait of Jerusalem's Jewish community, a pious population who gathered at the retaining wall of Judaism's most sacred site. According to the 1871 visitor to Jerusalem William Seward, the American Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln, the Jews comprised half of the city's population, the Muslims one-quarter, and the Christians and Armenians the remainder.