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Stewart, Alexander Blair, 1849–1936

Cruise of the "Doris" 1882.

Great Britain, 1882.
Physical Description:
1 album (71 photographs) ; 27 x 38 cm
Unable to reach service. Holdings currently not available
Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
The album was presumably compiled by or for Major Alexander Blair Stewart, of Balnakeilly (1849-1936), whose armorial bookplate appears on the front pastedown. Stewart was a member of the “Black Watch,” a Scottish infantry regiment which served in, among other conflicts, the Anglo-Egyptian War (1882), the conflict between British forces and Egyptian and Sudanese nationalist forces under Ahmed 'Urabi. 'Urabi had launched a coup against Mohamed Tewfik Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, whom both the British recognized as legitimate and supported militarily, via an invasion. It is possible the album depicts areas through which Stewart passed during his deployment, though no direct allusion to the conflict exists in the photographs.
Bound in black gilt-tooled leather, with the title stamped in gold on the front cover. The rear pastedown bears the label of “C.R. Christie, fancy stationer, 73 George Street, Edinburgh."
Album of photographs depicting scenes from Spain, Italy, Malta, North Africa, and Egypt, as well as portraits of individuals in classically Orientalist settings. Stamped in gold on the front cover: "Cruise of the 'Doris' 1882." This probably refers to the HMS Doris, a frigate in the service of the British navy between 1857 and 1885. It is unclear whether any (or which) of the photographs were taken by Stewart. A number of photographs in the latter half of the album include the name of the photographer (or studio), along with text identifying the sites depicted. Photographers include Horatio Agius (1844-1910), a Maltese photographer, Giorgio Sommer (1834-1914), a prominent German photographer who worked primarily in Naples, and Antonio Gambino Fici. Other photographs bear only monograms or numbers, perhaps suggesting an order in a catalogue. All the identifiable photographers were known for producing images connected with growing cultures of tourism and travel: views, portraits, and archaeological scenes all referenced experiences of difference, of encounter, and of the timelessness associated with “Oriental” societies and folk cultures of the southern Mediterranean.
In addition to landscapes, cityscapes, and views of ruins, many of the images are portraits of individuals associated with the various locales depicted. Some are labeled as certain types or characters; one page includes several smaller photographs of a “countryman,” a “cheeseman,” a “lady,” and a few others. Other portraits include an image of several Middle Eastern or North African falconers, a shopkeeper in his shop, and several soldiers on horseback in military gear. Another shows a European soldier in uniform below palm trees; perhaps these images are related to Stewart's deployment, while the others are souvenirs of his travel.
Three photographs depict non-Western female figures in interiors of Moorish design. Two of the interiors feature a common painted backdrop.
The album also includes (staged) “folk” scenes of individuals in traditional clothing (likely in Spain); images of churches, interior and exterior; pictures of the interior of the Alhambra; an observatory; and views of military ships in harbors.
Subject Terms:
Africa, North -- Pictorial works.
Anglo-Egyptian War, 1882.
Doris (Ship : 1857-1885)
Egypt -- Pictorial works.
Italy -- Pictorial works.
Malta -- Pictorial works.
Mediterranean Region -- Pictorial works.
Orientalism -- Great Britain.
Spain -- Pictorial works.
Photograph albums.
Albumen prints.
Armorial bookplates (Provenance)
Agius, Horatio, 1844-1910, photographer.
Fici, Antonio Gambino, photographer.
Sommer, Giorgio, 1834-1914, photographer.

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