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COPTIC HOUSES IN ESBEKYEH SQUARE, CAIRO, C. 1860 – 1863, ANOTHER HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPH OF THE COPTIC QUARTER IN AZBAKIYYA, THIS TIME BY THE GERMAN PHOTOGRAPHER W. HAMMERSCHMIDT

July 25, 2012

 Figure 1: Coptic Houses in Esbekyeh Square, Cairo, by W. Hammerschmidt, c. 1860-1863.

Wilhelm Hammerschmidt (or W. Hammerschmidt or Hammerschmidtz of Cairo) was a German photographer who produced brilliant Egyptian-themes photography; but, sadly, not much is known of him. He settled in Cairo and was active in photography from 1860 until 1869. He set up a studio in Cairo around 1860, one of the earliest European photographers to take up residency in Egypt, and he also sold photographic equipment and supplies for travelling photographers. He kept his connection with Germany and was a member of the Berlin Photographic Society.

One of his photographs is titled “Coptic Houses in Esbekyeh Square, Cairo”, and is known to have been taken in c. 1860-1863. The National Gallery of Canada possess a copy (no. 21513.4) which is 24 X 31.8 cm in dimension, and is albumen silver print.

The photograph taken a few years after Francis Frith’s 1857 photograph, which is titled “The Ezbekeeyeh, Cairo”, seems to be a zooming in view of Firth’s photograph, which we have published in a previous article.[1] The reader can see that a few changes have happened (including the tree that has growm since), but the houses still retain their old character, and are recognisable.


[1] Dioscorus Boles (25 July 2012): THE EZBEKEEYEH, CAIRO c. 1857, A HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANCIS FRITH OF THE COPTIC QUARTER IN AZBAKIYYA, CAIRO:

https://copticliterature.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/the-ezbekeeyeh-cairo-c-1857-a-historical-photograph-by-francis-frith-of-the-coptic-quarter-in-azbakiyya-cairo/  Hammerschmidt’s photo is another proof that Frith’s photograph was actually of the Coptic Quarter.

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