Oct 29, 2007

Arab Musicians

Arab Musicians


Albumen print from wet collodion negative

Image: 21.9 x 17.9 cm (8 5/8 x 7 1/16 in.); Matted: 50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1995.236



Taken to catalogue and document cultural practices, both of these photographs were intended as portraits of professions or ethnographic types rather than portraits of individuals. Hart’s image was part of his subscription series Universal Gallery of Peoples, which sought “to reproduce through photography the national costumes that are disappearing rapidly before the advance of civilization, to preserve for people the flavor, and for artists the memory of what once was beautiful and picturesque.” An unidentified photographer captured the picturesque pifferari, country musicians who wandered European cities around Christmas playing before images of the Virgin and on the streets. They were a common theme for French and Italian painters and photographers in the 1840s and 1850s.

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