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Félix Bonfils Photographs Collection

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Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Bonfils, Félix, 1831-1885

Félix Bonfils was born on 8 March 1831, in St. Hippolyte du Fort (Gard), France. He was initially trained as a bookbinder, but became an amateur photographer after a short tour of duty with the army in Lebanon (1860). This introduction to the Middle East and photography would soon combine to become Bonfils' destiny. When his young son, Adrien (b. 1861), suffered from respiratory problems, Bonfils' wife, Lydie (b. 1837), took the boy to recuperate in the dry, hot climate of Beirut. Lydie fell in love with Lebanon just as Bonfils' had, and by 1867 the family definitively moved to Beirut where Bonfils set up a photographic studio.

Maison Bonfils became a prolific studio, which, Bonfils bragged in 1871, produced 591 negatives from various sites along the eastern Mediterranean, 15,000 prints, and 9,000 stereoscopic views. Bonfils also published many albums focusing on a specific region or theme. His subjects included architectural details, monuments, and city views. These photographs were popular with the many travelers who began touring the region as an extension of the European Grand Tour. As a result of his success in Beirut, Bonfils went on to open a second studio in Alès, France.

Maison Bonfils was truly a family affair: Lydie assisted her husband and took studio portraits that formed part of the Bonfils photographic collection. After Bonfils' death in 1885 while working in Alès, Adrien returned to Beirut from military service in Algeria. He took over the studio, and, together with Lydie, continued his father's work, while also producing new images and engaging in new projects. But once Adrien's interest in photography waned, Lydie stepped in to run the studio alone. She carried on the tradition of her husband and son, and produced her own photographic catalog, until 1916 when World War I forced her to evacuate. Only two years later, in 1918, Lydie passed away; she was 81 years old. Adrien died in 1929. 1

The collction consists of an open collection of photographs of images and people in the eastern Mediterranean taken by Bonfils during the second half of the 19th century and published by his Maison Bonfils studio in Beirut, Lebanon. Included are a panorama of Beirut; a view of Athens, Greece; a panorama (3 parts) of Olympia; a panorama (3 parts) of Istanbul and the Golden Horn; a panorama of Athens (3 parts); and several photographs of women in their traditional dress. There are also two albumen prints--one image of the Erectheum and one image of the interior of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (27.4 x 37.7 cm.)--and a group of 56 captioned images of sites in Syria and Palestine.

This is a growing collection. Currently, the photographs are arranged by accession number, then by Bonfils photograph number.

The biographical sketch was written by consulting the following sources: Bortot, M. Scott. "A Journey into a Preserved Past." Middle East Times. March 2003. Rockett, Will H. "The Bonfils Story: A Legacy of Light." Al Mashriq: The Levant. Editor, Borre Ludvigsen. March 2003. Szegedy-Maszak, Andrew. "The Genius of Félix Bonfils." Archaeology. 54, no. 3 (May/June 2001). March 2003.

Purchased from Bernard J. Shapero and Petros Vergos in 2003-2008.

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

This collection was processed by Karla J. Vecchia in 2003. Finding aid written by Karla J. Vecchia in 2003.

No appraisal information is available.

Publisher
Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Author
Karla J. Vecchia
Finding Aid Date
2003
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

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Collection Inventory

Physical Description

1 box

322. "The Slope of the Nymphs,", undated. 1 box.
Scope and Contents

view of Athens, Greece, retouched with people in the foreground partially erased

Physical Description

1 box22.4 x 27.8 cm., 40.5 x 50.5 cm. mat)

Physical Description

1 box

350. "Puits de la Samaritaine,", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.5 x 28.1 cm

619. "Jeune femme de Naplouse,", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box28.2 x 21.5 cm

712. "Dame arabe syrienne chez elle,", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.9 cm

Physical Description

1 box

"Grotte des Pigeons prés Beyrouth", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

236. "Jaffa, la passe. — The channel at Jaffa.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

273. "Porte St-Etienne. — St Stephen's gate.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

276. "Porte dorée, intérieur. — The golden gate, interior", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

310. "Vallée des tombeaux de Josophat. — The valley of tombs of Jehoshaphat.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

317. "Champ du Sang, ou vallée de Hinnom. — The field of blood, or valley of Hinnom.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

323. "Résevoir de Siloé. — The Pool of Siloam.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

330. "Vue générale de Bethléem et de l'Eglise de la Nativité. — General view of Bethlehem and church of the Nativity", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

333. "Colonnade de l'église de la Nativité", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

334. "Eglise de la Nativité, intérieur. — Church of the Nativity, interior.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

335. "Grotte de la Nativité. — Cave of the Nativity.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

336. "Tombeau de Rachel. — Rachel's Tomb.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

339. "Panorama de Bethlehem No 2.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

343. "Vue générale de Jéricho. — General view of Jericho.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

343. "Vue générale de Jéricho. — General view of Jericho.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

345. "Fontaine d'Elisée. — Elisa's fountain.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

346. "Vue générale de Bethany. — General view of Bethany.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

346. "Vue générale de Bethany. — General view of Bethany.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

347. "Beïtten (Bethel). — Beittin (Bethel) general view.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

348. "Bethulie (Sanour). — Bethulia (Sanour) general view.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

350. "Puits de la Samaritaine ou de Jacob. — The well of Jacob.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

351. "Samarie (Sébaste), vue générale. — General view of Samaria (Sebaste).", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

354. "Vallée de Naplouse (Sichem). — The valley of Naplouse (Neapolis) (Sichem).", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

362. "Vue de Tibériade, prise de l'ouest. — View of Tiberias from the west.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

364. "Ruines de Capernaüm. — Ruins of Capernaum.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

367. "Le Mont Carmel. — The Mount Carmel.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

371. "Vue générale de Sidon prise de la mer. — Sidon, from the sea.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

454. "Intérieur du temple du Jupiter à Balbek", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

480. "Vue générale de Beyrouth et du Liban (No 1)", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

877. "Coupole de l'Ascension, intérieur. — Cupola of the Ascension, interior.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

885. "Route de Bethany à Jérusalem. — Road from Bethany to Jerusalem.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

888. "Route de Bethlehem prise de la Porte de Jaffa à Jérusalem.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

889. "Puits des Mages. — Well of the Magi.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

893. "Grotte de la Nativité : la crêche. — Cave of the Nativity : the manger.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

893. "Grotte de la Nativité : la crêche. — Cave of the Nativity : the manger.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

895. "Champ de Booz, aux environs de Bethléem. — Field of Boaz in the environs of Bethlehem.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

905. "Vue générale de Jéricho.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

908. "Montagne et couvent de la quarantaine.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

911. "La mer Morte et les Montagnes de Judée. — The Dead Sea and the hills of Judea.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

916. "Cours de Jourdain. — The course of the Jordan.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

917. "Courbe et cours de Jourdain. — Curve and course of the Jordan.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

926. "Vue générale de Naplouse et du Mt Garizim. — General view of Naplouse and Mount Garizim.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

927. "Vue générale de Naplouse et du Mt Ebal. — General view of Naplous and Mount Ebal.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

932. "Djenin, vue générale. — General view of Djenin.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

956. "Vue générale de Caïffa. — General view of Kaiffa.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

1042. "Marché de Bethléem. — Market place at Bethlehem.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

1043. "Scène du marché à Bethléem. — Market scene at Bethlehem.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

1044. "Khan-el-Ahmar. — Khan-el-Amar : Scene of the « good Samaritan » episode.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

1045. "Wadi-el-Kelt : couvent St-Elie. — Wadi-el-Kelt : Convent of St Elias.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

1121. "Chêne d'Abraham à Hébron.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

1209. "Cérémonie du lavement des pieds chez les Grecs, devant le St-Sépulcre. — Greek ceremony of washing the feet in the outside-court of the Holy Sepulchre.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

1224. "Vallée de Hinnom, vue de la rue de Bethléem. — Valley of Hinnom, view from the Bethlehem road.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

1225. "Vue générale de Bethléem, du puits de David.— General view of Bethlehem from David's well.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

1243. "El-Bireh (Berôth). — El-Bireh (Berôth) general view.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

1244. "Barque de pêche sur le lac de Tibériade. — Fishing-boat on the lake of Tiberias.", undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box21.8 x 27.8 cm

Larnaca - Cyprus, circa 1875. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

Consists of (1) albumen mounted print (27x22cm) of Larnaca. Numbered and captioned "505 Ancien Larnaca. Vue générale- Chypre" at the lower right corner of the image and photographer's signature at the lower left.

Physical Description

1 folder

Print, Suggest