THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY. March 1, 1860, p.60
MANY of the illustrations in this valuable collection we have already noticed in our columns when criticising the contents of the various photographic exhibitions held during the last two years in the metropolis, and where all are so admirable it is a somewhat embarassing task to make a judicious selection for special comment. We do not, however, think we should be doing justice to the excellence of this important publication were we to omit altogether such a proceeding. We shall there fore select for the purpose the following:--
TEMPLE OF KOUM OMBO, Upper Egypt.--This is one of those gigantic ruins that call forth in the spectator as much astonishment at the magnitude of the structure as admiration at the beauty of design and picturesqueness of effect.. The figures of two Nile boatmen leaning against one of the enormous stones which formerly constituted a portion of the freize, indicate the immensity-- of the proportions of the edifice, which in its turn dwarfs the figures to the aspect of Lilliputians. The massive pillars are buried in the shifting sand of the desert almost up to the sculptured capitals, which support an entablature with devices of two winged globes, emblematic of the omnipresence of the deity, and which are plainly visible. Beautiful, majestic, magnificent even in its degradation--what must it not have been in its glory!
PHARAOH'S BED, IN THE ISLAND OF PHIL(E.--Mr. Frith says: "The Island of Philoe is the most beautiful thing in Egypt, and the temple absurdly called Pharaoh's Bed is the most beautiful thing upon the island." From the very exquisite photograph with which he has enriched this collection we are by no means disposed to question the correctness of this statement. The singular structure of the temple, built without any roof (none being needed in this splendid climate), forms the apex of the composition. Clumps of the date palm trees, with their naked . stems and feathery tops, harmonise with the pillars and their leaf--like capitals. At the foot of the mound on which the building is erected, the waters of the Nile appear, with one of I the native vessels, called a "dahibieh," moored in a sheltered nook; the whole composing into a most effective picture, albeit one of a very uncommon character. The execution of this specimen is little, if anything, short of perfection.
SCULPTURED GATEWAY, KARNAC.--This Pylon, as--it is termed, consists of a species of triumphal arch--but that no arch exists; the opening being rectangular, and the whole structure tapering upwards. Over the gateway is the winged world, before mentioned, while every part of the exterior surface of the building is covered with hieroglyphics.
THE GREAT COLUMN AND SMALLER TEMPLE, BAALBEC.--We ' instantly recognise these columns as the model or type to which a host of imaginary picturesque ruins owe their existence. That they are beautiful, very beautiful, few will be disposed to deny; but why they are so it is not so easy to point out. The --, proportions of the columns and their relative distance apart, perfect as these are at once felt to be, are not enough to explain the charm that undoubtedly exists, for this is materially heightened by the terribly dilapidated state of the crumbling stone. Perhaps it may be in some measure owing to the beautiful chequering of light and shade, similar to that we observe in a grove of trees. We are not at all learned in architectural mysteries, but the capitals of the pillars appear to us to be of the kind which we have been taught to call "Corinthian."
We perceive that Mfr. Frith indulges in a little piquante pleasantry on the subject of architectural nomenclature.
NAZARETH FROM THE NORTH--WEST.--This is an illustration in which everybody is sure to be interested, and is perhaps the most effective of all the distant views. The locality in which Our Saviour spent the greater part of his life on earth is situated in a kind of fertile valley or basin, at a high level amongst a series of rounded undulating bills. Though a little deficient in vigour, this is an extremely pleasing photograph. The immediate foreground is occupied by a hedge of "opuntia," or "prickly pear," a member of the cactus tribe, beyond which Nazareth, with all the peculiarities of an Eastern city, is displayed to view, whilst the background is composed of the wooded slopes of the distant bills, which assume a more and more rugged aspect as the eye ranges over the higher levels; and across the summits of those hills, forming the natural basin on which the city is built, a dim outline of still more distant ridges is perceptible.
THE LARGEST OF THE CEDARS -- MOUNT LEBANON. --Apart from the interest attaching to this subject in an historical point of view, it is one which is valuable as an illustration --not only for botanical purposes, but also to the artist--of the habit and aspect, as well as of the habitat of these celebrated timber trees. The proof before us is beautifully executed, and the composition pleasing and artistic.
THE TEMPLE OF WADY KARDASSY, NUBIA, is truly, as Mr. Frith terms it, "a bonnie little ruin." It seems to have been constructed on purpose to form the centre of a picture, as it does in the one before us most completely. Located on the river's bank, with the calm waters of the stream reflecting the wooded slopes of some low hills on the opposite bank, it conveys a perfect sentiment of repose, no doubt partly owing to the deep but transparent shadows caused by the flood of light from an unclouded sun. This is a picture that will please all tastes, possessing as it does a charm apart from association.
THE CIRCULAR TEMPLE, BAALBEC, is an architectural gent; and, what is more, it is disposed in a picturesque setting, situated in a pleasant locality. With reference to a "delicious stream," along the bed of which he rode knee deep in approaching this temple, the artist quotes the following lines:--
"So bright the pebbles on its shore,
That not a maid may thither stray,
But counts her stringed necklace o'er,
And thinks the pearls have slipped away."
ASSOUN-- a town on the banks of the Nile, situated in the most romantic spot of the Nile Valley, in the immediate vicinity of the first cataract and the islands of Elephantine and Philoe--is no less interesting as a landscape. The town is, as it were, imbedded in a luxuriant grove of date palms, and is backed by a low range of distant hills, while the windings of the river form a graceful foreground, prettily broken up by a number of passenger and merchant vessels moored alongside the beach, which is strewn with such merchandise as ivory, bags of gum, and other similar produce, 'whilst a crowd of natives occupy a point of land near some of the vessels. It is altogether a very pleasing composition.
With so many attractive illustrations, it is difficult to know where to stop; but as we have already extended this notice far beyond our usual limits, with one more we shall conclude it.
THE DOUM PALM AND RUINED MOSQUE, PHILOE, is equally worthy of commendation with the last--named, as a picture; though the subject is perhaps as markedly in contrast with it as it is well possible to be. It is a ruined mosque on the steep side of a rugged, picturesque rock, with the palm tree in the fore. ground, the fruit of which tree, we are informed, constitutes the nut employed for making small articles of turnery ware, and known as vegetable ivory. We cannot resist the following quotation from the letterpress annexed to this specimen:--
"It may interest my brethren of the Black Art (as my mother calls it when she overhauls my shirts as they come from the wash) to know something about my apparatus and modus operandi Know then, that, for the purpose of making large pictures (20 inches by 10), I had constructed in London a wicker--work carriage on wheels, which was in fact both camera and developing--room, and occasionally sleeping--room; SO that the doctor whom I heard at the Photographic Society a year or two ago ridiculing the rage for large pictures, and proposing as the ultima thule of extravagance which his playful fancy could suggest 'that men should leave their cameras upon wheels, and large enough to sleep in' (a remark which raised a hearty laugh through the room), committed ass error common with wits--his remark was much less facetious and imaginative than he supposed.
'This carriage of mine, then, being entirely overspread with a loose cover of white sailcloth to protect it from the sun, was a most conspicuous and mysterious--looking vehicle, and excited amongst the Egyptian populace a vast amount of ingenious speculation as to its uses. he idea, however, which seemed the most reasonable, and therefore obtained the most credit, was, that therein, with right laudable and jealous care, I transported from place to place my--harem! It was full of moon--faced beauties, my wives all!--and great was the respect and consideration which this view of the case procured for me!"
We have already mentioned the handsome manner in which this work is "got up." The printing, both typographic and photographic, is of the highest order. As regards the former, it is of a most readable size, clear, and not too crowded, and the initial letter of each page is elaborately ornamental respecting the latter we can truly affirm that it is about as near to perfection as possible. The whole of the proofs have been executed in the establishment of Messrs. Frith and Hayward, under their personal superintendence, and we have reason to know that there is every probability--not to say almost certainty--of the permanence of these photographic treasures,--the system pursued in their production embracing all the most approved manipulations, and the colouring matter of the pictures consisting of gold.
Messrs. Frith and Hayward have recently removed their extensive printing establishment to Reigate, where they have erected every appliance for the production, on a large scale, of first--class photographic proofs, for the illustration of this and other important publications, as well as for general photographic printing. We are of course not at liberty to mention the extent of their resources for the production of a large number of copies in a given time; but we may state that it is astounding, and goes further to convince us of the stability of photography as "an institution" than the concurrence even of many other favourable indications.
We cannot conclude without expressing a hearty wish for the commercial success of this publication, of which we have been endeavouring to convey to our readers some adequate idea.
Those who feel inclined to inspect the views can at present do so at Messrs. Leggatt, Hayward, and Leggatt's, in Cornhill, London, where the whole series, mounted and framed, is on view.