[FIRST PHOTOGRAPH OF AN OTTOMAN SULTAN] Original sepia toning photograph of Sultan Abdülmecid, (31st Ottoman sultan), (1823-1861)
Photographed by ABDULLAH FRERES (Viçen, Hovsep, and Kevork Abdullahian), (Turkish photographers of Armenian origin), (1820-1918)., [Istanbul], [ca. 1860].
Original sepia toning photograph of Sultan Abdülmecid (31st Ottoman sultan and 95th caliph of Islam) with his medals and orders and fez, which is the earliest photograph of an Ottoman Sultan or a member of the Turkish royal family, taken by famous early Turkish photography studio by Abdullah Freres in Armenian origin. 16x10,5 cm. No studio emblem or sign. Probably, this is a later printed copy on a photo paper and mounted in a cardboard frame. A couple of cracks on the photo's margins, overall a good photograph.
Abdullah Frères, three Ottoman Armenian brothers Vichen (1820-1902), Hovsep (1830-1908), and Kevork Abdullah (1839-1918) ran a profitable studio in Constantinople with other locations in Cairo and Izmir. In 1862 the three brothers were named official royal photographers in the courts of the Sultans Abdul Aziz and Abdul Hamid II and had the right to use the royal monogram.
While official royal photographers to the Sultans were commissioned to document the Ottoman Empire in photographs. The work appears to have been conceived by the sultan as a portrait of his empire for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition but was not exhibited there. It dwells on the accomplishments and westernizing improvements of the regime, such as the well-drilled and equipped military, the technologically advanced lifesaving and fire fighting brigades, customs bureaucracy, and life at the lavish Imperial court. A copy of the survey was presented by Sultan Abdul-Hamid to the Library of Congress in 1894. (Gift of H.I.M. the Sultan Abdul Hamid II). They also sold various views of Egypt and the Middle East to tourists through their studios. In 1899 they sold their business and collection to Sebah and Jollier, which led ultimately to the confusion of manufacture from the two studios since later photographs from Abdullah Frères negatives are embossed with the Sebah and Jollier back stamp. It was the first photography studio to photograph a sultan in the Ottoman Empire.
Abdülmecid I or (Sultan Abdülmecid the Reorganizer) due to the Tanzimat reforms he conducted, he is also known as Abdulmejid and similar spellings were the 31st Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and succeeded his father Mahmud II on 2 July 1839. His reign was notable for the rise of nationalist movements within the empire's territories. Abdulmecid wanted to encourage Ottomanism among the secessionist subject nations and stop the rise of nationalist movements within the empire but failed to succeed despite trying to integrate non-Muslims and non-Turks more thoroughly into Ottoman society with new laws and reforms. He tried to forge alliances with the major powers of Western Europe, namely the United Kingdom and France, who fought alongside the Ottoman Empire in the Crimean War against Russia. In the following Congress of Paris on 30 March 1856, the Ottoman Empire was officially included among the European family of nations. Abdulmejid's biggest achievement was the announcement and application of the Tanzimat (reorganization) reforms which were prepared by his father and effectively started the modernization of the Ottoman Empire in 1839. For this achievement, one of the Imperial anthems of the Ottoman Empire, the March of Abdulmejid, was named after him.