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The very first exhibition at Louvre Abu Dhabi dedicated solely to the medium of photography

For the very first time since the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi, the museum is hosting an exhibition displaying photographs, with a selection of over 250 historic photographs, taken between 1842 and 1896.

Organized by Louvre Abu Dhabi, musée du quai Branly- Jacques Chirac in Paris (also designed by Jean Nouvel), and Agence France-Museums and sponsored by the Bank of Sharjah, this exhibition includes some of the earliest photographs produced outside of Europe.

Portrait of a couple. Lima. 1852 – 1856 Benjamin Franklin Pease (1822 – 1888) Daguerreotype Stamped Pease bottom left of the mount Retratista bottom right Paris, musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac


As always, the scenography is amazing and invites visitors to explore the development of photography in its first years of existence.

The rare display – arranged in different chapters and in a chronological manner – highlights images taken by travelers and sailors all around the world, with clichés taken in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Peru, USA, Russia, Japan, China, India, and many more countries.



Running until 13 July 2019, the exhibition traces the dissemination of photography as a form of presentation and documentation and an instrument of discovering and understanding the world and its people. The works on display include exceptional loans from musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, musée national des Arts Asiatiques – Guimet, l’Etablissement public du musée d’Orsay, la Société de Géographie and La Cité de la Céramique – Sèvres & Limoges. The exhibition is curated by Christine Barthe, Head of the Photographic Collections Heritage Unit at the musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac.

HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said: “Louvre Abu Dhabi aims to tell the story of humanity, and photography is one of the most important tools that has contributed to the documentation of the history of the world and its diverse cultures. Photographs 1842 – 1896: An Early Album of the World is yet another testament to how Louvre Abu Dhabi brings the world to our city. The museum’s first-ever photography exhibition complements Abu Dhabi’s colourful cultural landscape by giving visitors the opportunity to travel to new places and explore different regions of the world through the eyes of 19th century travellers.” 

Henri Jacquart (1809 – 1874) Hamoud-ben-Mohamed aged 22, born in Algiers Paris, France, September 1851 Dagueorrtype Paris, musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac

The exhibition displays works by prominent international photographers

This includes Charles Guillain, a French ship’s captain who took part in a diplomatic voyage down the coast of Africa in 1847-48; Désiré Charnay, an archaeologist who photographed the first pre-Hispanic sites in Mexico; Marc Ferrez, the first Brazilian photographer to receive international recognition; William Ellis, an English missionary who travelled through Madagascar; Lai Afong a Chinese photographer who established one of the early photographic studios in Hong Kong; Kassian Cephas, the first Indonesian to become a professional photographer, and Egyptian military engineer Muhammad Sadiq Bey, who took the first photographs of the Holy Places in Medina and Mecca circa 1881.


View of the Holy Shrine and the City of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 1881 Muhammad Sadiq Bey (1822 – 1902) Photographic print Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Rare Books Reserve Photo credit: © Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris

The exhibition also presents a visual record of Auguste Bartholdi’s voyage to Egypt, Nubia (current day Sudan) and Palestine to photograph the principal monuments. This collection was his first and last interaction with the medium of photography before he went on to design the Statue of Liberty.

Christine Barthe, Head of the Photographic Collections Heritage Unit at the musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac and curator of the exhibition, said: “The exhibition Photographs 1842 – 1896: An Early Album of the World was born from a desire to present, in Abu Dhabi, some of the earliest photographic images recorded on earth. To meet this challenge, we had to shift focus and lead extensive research to look towards the new horizons of the birth of photography outside Europe and the United States. 

Antonio Zeno Shindler (1823 – 1899) Ameridians’ Portraits Washington, USA, 1867 | Paris, musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac


The Maharani of Nepal and her Ladies in Waiting. Nepal. 1885 – 1894 Johnston & Hoffmann (Active 1880 – 1950) Albumen print Paris, musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac Photo credit: © musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Dist. RMN – Grand Palais / image musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac

This exhibition offers, for the first time, a global history of the first steps of photography, whose development in South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia reveals a fascinating play of difference and similarity. The exhibition will immerse visitors into a set of images of great beauty, fascinating stories, and discoveries. I believe it will be full of surprises for visitors, who will not only discover the first evidence of the visual mapping of the world but also question our fascination and our current dependence on photographic images.”

LOUVRE ABU DHABI |  Saadiyat Island District, Abu Dhabi

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Agence France-Museumsmusée du quai Branly- Jacques ChiracNew Exhibition at Louvre Abu DhabiPhotographs 1842 – 1896: An Early Album To The WorldPhotographs Exhibition at Louvre Abu Dhabi

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