Original photograph of Hamlet play staged in the Imperial Ottoman palace, Yildiz before 1923. Photographed by Sebah & Joaillier.

Original photograph of Hamlet play staged in the Imperial Ottoman palace, Yildiz before 1923. Photographed by Sebah & Joaillier.

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[HAMLET], Sebah & Joaillier., Constantinople - Istanbul (Yildiz Palace), [n.d.; pre-1923].

Original gelatin silver photograph mounted on original cardboard of photographer. Photographer's calligraphic logo gilt at bottom of cardboard in bilingual in Old Turkish with Arabic letters and French. A crack on the top left corner; slight stains and scratch on board and photograph. Overall a good photo. No date.

Extremely rare photograph immortalizing the Hamlet play with all Turkish actors and actresses staged in the Imperial Ottoman court before the 1923 proclamation of the Turkish Republic. This is the first and only known image showing Hamlet staged in the Ottoman palace taken by Sebah & Joallier. The actors and actresses are not recognized.

Yildiz Theatre and Opera House, built by Sultan Abdülhamid II in 1889, has stars on its domed ceiling, a reference to the name of the Yildiz Palace, i.e. Star Palace. Because no one was allowed to show their backs to the sultan, the position of the sultan's balcony box meant that the first row seats were never used.

The Sebah & Joaillier photography studio was founded in 1857 by Pascal Sébah, and continued to serve until it shuttered in 1973 under the name Foto Sabah. The studio took this name after the renowned Ottoman photographer Pascal Sébah's (1823-1886) death, when his young son Joannes (Jean) Sébah (1872-1947) and his brother Cosmi Sébah formed a partnership with Istanbul-based photographer Policarpe Joaillier.