Dame turque sur divan, by Zangaki

This salon view reveals a carefully staged and costumed odalisque, in a photograph taken by two brothers of Greek nationality known only as G. and C. Zangaki, who lived and worked in Egypt and Palestine beginning around 1870. Like Hippolyte Arnoux, who documented with his camera the construction of the Suez Canal, the Zangakis worked out of Port Said. Photographs like this answered a popular demand for the odalisque, a purported glimpse inside of the fabled harems of the Orient. Such disparate literary sources as Sir Richard Burton's translation of the Arabian Nights and travelers' descriptions of the Almées, or dancing courtesans of Egypt, blended together in the Western imagination, blurring the line between lascivious courtesans and the sequestered inhabitants of the harem, resulting in coquettish images like this one. Signed at lower left "Zangaki"; caption at lower right "Nr. 800 Dame turque sur divan."

  • Wet collodion on glass
  • 23.5 x 29.5 cm
  • $550.00