Tag Archives: Jerusalem

First Known Photographs of Jerusalem

Jerusalem is one of the oldest and most continually-occupied cities in the world. It has a rich history, and it’s disgraceful that it has remain mired in the ongoing battle between religious and political factions that occupy the region. Still, it holds a special place in the collective hearts of the faithful.

Earlier this year the Smithsonian Institution released what are believed to be the first photographs ever taken of the city. They date to 1844 and were taken by French photographer Joseph Girault de Prangney. De Prangney was a pioneer in the field of daguerreotypes, but he’s not well known among aficionados of art and photography. He studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and learned about daguerreotypes in 1841, the same year inventor Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre publicly demonstrated the process. It’s unclear if de Prangney studied daguerreotypes directly under Daguerre or one of the latter’s associates. But, he developed a fascination with the new art form and meshed it with his interest in the Middle East. In 1842, he embarked on a three-year tour of Italy Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Syria and Palestine. He carried hundreds of pounds of photography equipment and produced more than 800 daguerreotypes. If you understand how cumbersome photography equipment of the day was and how long it took to make just one daguerreotype, then you’ll truly appreciate his dedication.







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Quote of the Day

“Jerusalem is an insane place in some ways.  It overwhelms people, and it has for centuries.  The city is seductive, and people who are highly suggestible can succumb to this seduction.  I’m always envious of people who live in San Diego, where history barely exists.” 

— Yoram Bilu, an Israeli psychological anthropologist at the University of Chicago Divinity School, discussing “Jerusalem Syndrome,” where visitors to the city begin to believe they are the Messiah. 

Like a typical foreigner – whether from Europe or the Middle East – Bilu shows what a historical idiot he is about the Western Hemisphere.  Hell, a lot of Americans are that way!  Even a cursory examination of San Diego will prove it has an extensive past – dating back some 20,000 years.  But, who am I to try to reason with a psychologist?

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