Sep 8, 2006

Kaalat el Athlit, Syria, View from the Seaside

Voyage en Orient, vol 2, "Chateau du temps des Croisades en Syrie"

Kaalat el Athlit, Syria, View from the Seaside


Louis de Clercq

(French, 1836–1901)

Albumen print from calotype negatives

Image: 20.7 x 15.2 cm (8 1/8 x 6 in.); Matted: 55.9 x 71.1 cm (22 x 28 in.)

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1996.254



After fulfilling his obligation to a government-sponsored expedition to the crusader castles of Syria and Asia Minor, Louis de Clercq continued his photographic exploration of the Holy Land, moved on to Egypt, and returned to France through Spain. From the probably several hundred paper negatives he took during his extensive travels, de Clercq published a selection of 222 albumen prints, divided into 6 volumes, which were frequently bound as 5 albums, titled Voyage in Orient (1859–60). This carefully posed panorama of the Syrian coastline at Kaalat el Athlit, bathed in warm light and luminous shadows, records the sweep of space and rugged beauty of the site, emphasizing its geographical and topographical features. Interestingly, de Clercq’s use of the panoramas represents an impressive technical achievement, since the difficulties in mid-19th-century photography only increased when the negatives had to form a continuous image. His panoramas also reveal the period’s zeal to convey as much information as possible about the experience of a place.

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