Tunisia in Sepia: Photographs Shown at the 1892 European History Exhibition

Introduction

This catalogue is a valuable compilation of Tunisian-themed photographs that have been at the National Archaeological Museum since 1892, when they were part of its inaugural show, the European History Exhibition. The images were displayed in Gallery III, a room devoted to France which also included objects from its colonies and the protectorate of Tunisia. They were exhibited in twenty large frames hung on the walls, along with Spanish tapestries illustrating this country's ancient history and objects contributed by other Turkish, Tunisian and French exhibitors. After the show they were donated to the museum by their owner, the Bey of Tunis.

Studying them has made it possible to identify the places and monuments pictured, determine the authors of many of the prints, attributed to French photography studios like J. Garrigues, Gervais Sc., Neurdein Frères and Albert & Co., and date them to between 1850 and 1892. We were also able to associate and document them as part of larger collections in other photographic archives, such as Alinari in Florence and Supino in Bologna.

Given the wide range of themes, from monuments of different eras, types and functions to city views and landscapes, this collection is an exceptional historical and archaeological record that also sheds light on the social life and customs of 19th-century Tunisia.