Cover image for Sevruguin and the Persian image : photographs of Iran, 1870-1930
Sevruguin and the Persian image : photographs of Iran, 1870-1930
Bohrer, Frederick Nathaniel, 1956-
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution ; Seattle : University of Washington Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
124 pages : illustrations, color map ; 29 cm.
Foreword / Introduction : photographic perspectives / Chronology, map, print processes -- Early photography in Iran and the career of Antoin Sevruguin / Looking through photographs : Sevruguin and the Persian image / Portfolio of a nation / Sevruguin : orientalist or orienteur? / Passages : studio to archive to exhibition
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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TR107 .S48 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



Antoin Sevruguin (late 1830s-1933) was a celebrated photographer of late-nineteenth-century Iran. A reader of history, poetry, and literature in Persian, Russian, French, and Armenian, Sevruguin was a most remarkable individual. He is described as high-spirited and magnanimous, and he had a wide and diverse circle of friends and clients. Sevruguin had two lifelong obsessions. The first was a cherished desire to record Iran in all its facets on glass plates; the second was to capture light in his photographs the way he so admired in Rembrandt's paintings. A special interest in light and atmosphere pervaded Sevruguin's work.

In addition to his numerous, compelling pictures of urban life and portraits made in his famous studio in Tehran, Sevruguin made a photographic inventory of the landscape, archaeological sites, and people of Azarbaijan and continued the project in Kurdistan and Luristan (in southwestern Iran). Although the majority of his pictures were destroyed during political upheavals in the early twentieth century, a significant number have been preserved in archives in the West.

In this generously illustrated book, the first ever devoted to Sevruguin and his singular work, six distinguished authors explore the photographer's life and career. Sevruguin and the Persian Image includes a discussion of early Iranian photography; an international perspective on Sevruguin's subject matter and photographic techniques; and an examination of "Orientalism" and how historical, cultural, and ideological factors obscured Sevruguin's identity while at the same time allowing his work to be widely circulated in Iran and the West. In addition to commentary on how Sevruguin's work came to becollected, a compelling aspect of the book is a portfolio of signature works by a photographer whose innovations in lighting, composition, and development constitute landmark contributions to the evolution of early photograph

Author Notes


Reviews 1

Choice Review

This slender, fine book is an eye-opener--a quick look at the country and people of Iran in the late 19th and early 20th century through the lens of Antoin Sevruguin (late 1830s-1933). Sevruguin, an Armenian born to a family of Russian citizens in Tehran, grew up in Tbilisi (Georgia) and returned to Iran to marry and raise a family. As a Christian claiming Russian affiliation, and through that, connections to Europe, he worked as a professional photographer for both European and Iranian clientele; a man between East and West, he served current ideologies, prejudices, and views of both perspectives. He photographed Iran and Iranians to satisfy himself and his clients, as both an artist and one who earned a living this way. Four essays examine the photographer and his work but also raise a number of fascinating questions about the role of photography at this time: as a tool recording images that aroused curiosity about, satisfied, or resisted political and ideological motives of the West, and how "Orientalist stereotypes" were both reproduced and reinforced. A treasure, and an introduction to the extensive collection of early photographs at the Smithsonian. General readers; faculty; professionals; two-year technical program students. U. U. Bates; CUNY Hunter College

Table of Contents

Milo Cleveland BeachFrederick N. BohrerCorien J. M. Vuurman and Theo H. MartensFrederick N. BohrerReza SheikhAli BehdadJulia Ballerini
Forewordp. 6
Acknowledgmentsp. 7
Introduction: Photographic Perspectivesp. 8
Chronology, Map, Print Processesp. 10
Early Photography in Iran and the Career of Antoin Sevruguinp. 15
Looking Through Photographs: Sevruguin and the Persian Imagep. 33
Portfolio of a Nationp. 55
Sevruguin: Orientalist or Orienteur?p. 79
Passages: Studio to Archive to Exhibitionp. 99
Further Readingp. 118
Contributorsp. 119
Indexp. 120