Mount Athos Photographs

Unknown (Russian)
early 1860s
Albumen silver prints from glass negatives
13 1/2 x 16 1/4 inches and smaller
Album: 43 x 63 cm
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Gift of the Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005
Accession Number:
Not on view
Alexander III of Russia; Paul M. Fekula Collection, New York; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, August 18, 1994

From Christie's East, New York catalogue (6/8/94): "Vsepodanneishee prinoshenie ot Bratstva russkogo Afonskogo Sv. Panteleimona monasteria [A Most Humble Offering from the Russian Community of St. Pantaleimon's Monastery on Mount Athos]. [Mount Athos, c. 1865] Oblong folio (43 x 63 cm), contemporary maroon velvet, rather worn, lacks spine, upper cover with gilt Russian title as above with crowned cypher with entwined initials "AM" for the future Emperor Alexander and his wife Maria, g.e.; some marginal dust soiling, two leaves removed. 36 albumen print photographs, 345 x 412 mm. and smaller, mounted on 34 leaves of card, with printed captions in Russian, each mount with the blindstamped atelier mark of the St. Panteleimon Monastery.

A unique collection of photographs, probably a gift to the future Emperor Alexander III on the occasion of his marriage to Maria Feodorovna, nee Princess Dagmar of Denmark, on 20 October / 2 November 1866 in St. Petersburg. They illustrate not only the Russian monastery of St, Panteleimon, but also the other communities of different nationalities on Mount Athos including Xeropotamou, Simonos Petra, Gregoriou, Dionysiou, Saint Paul, Saint Athanasios, Caracallou, Filofei, Iviron, Kolomush, Karyai, Serai, Stavronikita, Pantocratoros, Vatopaidiou, Esphigmenou, Chilandari, Zografou, Kostmonit, Dohiariou, Xenophontas, and other small communities and buildings.

The earliest photographs of Mount Athos appear to have been taken by the Frenchmen Ernest de Caranza in 1852-53 (see Alkis X. Xanthakis. A HISTORY OF GREEK PHOTOGRAPHY 1839-1960 (Athens, 1988)), but few other photographers apparently entered the Holy Mountain whose images have survived."

Pierre Apraxine: "This is an exceedingly rare album, confirmed byYanni Petsopoulos, the Byzantine art consultant to the De Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, as well as a dealer in London, close to the Mount Athos authorities. Some of the photographs may pre-date 1866 by as much as ten years."