Author Archives: Alex Black

The Reinharts’ 1906 Honeymoon Tour of the Middle East

The Watson Library owns two albums of over 200 photographs that document Rudolf and Lulu Reinhart’s 1906 honeymoon tour of the Middle East (volume one and two). The Reinharts did not take the pictures themselves. They bought them from studios that sold them as souvenirs to American and European tourists. The studios that produced these photographs were based in Beirut, Cairo, and Istanbul, though their photographers came from all over Africa, Asia, and Europe. Some tourists created albums that featured reproduced photographs alongside photographs of their own. As far as we can tell, the Reinharts’ album only has studio-produced copies. We make this assumption based on the fact that there are no pictures of the Reinharts in the albums.

It’s hard to say, without knowing their exact itinerary, anything definite about the order in which the photographs are assembled, or if they even saw all of the sites that are represented in the albums. Though we can’t see the Reinherts’ own work in the images themselves, we can see it in the organization of the photographs.

In each of the albums, the Reinharts placed a photograph of the Sphinx of Giza. Both of them were taken by a different studio, each from a different angle.

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Félix Bonfils, a French photographer working in Beirut, took a picture of the Sphinx from its left. (You can see Bonfils’s signature on a rock at its base.) Gabriel Lekegian, an Armenian photographer working in Cairo, from its right. Neither photograph can capture the whole site on its own. Together, we see much of the site, in something like three dimensions. Still, these two photographs are separated by 20 others across two albums.

Elsewhere, multiple photographs from different studios are combined to form a more coherent narrative. There is a photograph of the exterior of the Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara taken by Lekegian.

HighlightsEgypt3Immediately following it are three interior shots of the same site by Bonfils.

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Both these albums are from the Rare Books in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries collection.

Poetic Thoughts, With Pictures

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This is an image, with accompanying text, from a book called Poetic Thoughts, With Pictures. It was published in 1885 by the Artists’ Fund Society of Philadelphia to celebrate the organization’s fiftieth anniversary. Members contributed original paintings, like this one, of a girl with two puppies, called “Pets.”  Each painting was then matched with a poem. The verse that accompanies “Pets,” by William Wordsworth, is actually from a poem called “To a Butterfly.” The excerpt reads: “Sweet childish days, that were as long / As twenty days are now.” Most of the image-text combinations of Poetic Thoughts, With Pictures are as sentimental.

Two themes dominate the collection: love and nature. The former triumphs over the latter in George Wright’s “Love of Nature,” which portrays a young woman painting a landscape while her lover bothers her. The poem suggests that the woman’s bored expression is a pose: Though nature’s rays are “blessed and bright,” Thomas Moore writes, “Yet faint are they all to the lustre that plays / In a smile from the heart that is dearly our own.” The nature about which Moore wrote lovingly wasn’t just any nature. The landscape in “Lines, Written on Leaving Philadelphia” was one that would have been familiar to Wright’s audience.

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Even if the tastes of the artists and their editors were cosmopolitan—Wordsworth was English, Moore was Irish—most of the thoughts and pictures are American, if not Philadelphian. The selection of poetry can be seen as an attempt to relate the global to the local. Just as one artist applied a poem about a butterfly to a painting about puppies, the artists took material from other contexts to describe their own. F. de B. Richard’s “Scene on the Brandywine,” of a river in southeastern Pennsylvania, is embellished with William Cullen Bryant’s “Lines on Revisiting the Country”—the “Country” here being New England.

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At least they’re both in the United States: C. Philipp Weber’s painting, “A Memory of the Mammoth Cave,” which is in Kentucky, is paired with Felicia Hemans’s poem “The Caravan in the Deserts”—the Sahara Desert.

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The Artists’ Fund Society of Philadelphia was formed “to promote the welfare of themselves and their professional brethren.” The Society administered a fund to benefit its members: “On the death of a member,” for example, “his family is entitled to receive a fixed proportion of the invested benefit fund.” Given the purpose of the organization, it isn’t surprising that the themes taken up in Poetic Thoughts, With Pictures deal with family, the home, and private life. Nor is it surprising that mortality is never far from the artists’ thoughts: The caption to F. F. De Crano’s “Sunshine,” a painting of a young woman smelling flowers, is an excerpt from a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem that describes “Buds that open only to decay.”

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Poetic Thoughts, With Pictures is part of our Rare Books in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries collection.