Gabriel Lekegian

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Gabriel Lekegian was an Armenian photographer, active in Egypt and the Middle-East from 1870 to 1890. Little is known about his life, but he left an important body of work, with thousands of images documenting the region at the end of the 19th century.[1]

Biography

Around 1880, Lekegian was based in Constantinople and was the student of the noted Italian expatriate artist Salvatore Valeri (who later married Lekegian’s sister, Maria). Working at first in watercolours, Lekegian produced a series of figurative and genre studies in the exquisitely detailed style of his teacher, displaying Orientalist tendencies borrowed from Valeri and Gerome. Upon his move to Cairo, he apprenticed in one of the Armenian or Greek photographic studios. After quickly establishing his studio opposite the Shepherd’s Hotel at the heart of Cairo’s European district, Lekegian positioned himself as an ‘artistic’ photographer, signalling himself and his work as aesthetically superior to his mainly French or Greek competitors.

Lekegian became a favoured photographer for the Egyptian royalty, many of whom, such as Princess Nazli, had their portraits taken by him. After he was employed as the official photographer of Egypt’s British Army, Lekegian’s business truly prospered. This led to numerous commissions to illustrate books and uniquely, provide ‘reportage’ shots on the massive government building operations in the region.

As of the early 1920s, Lekegian’s studio mainly concentrated on portraits and producing postcard compilations from his old negatives. It is likely that he shut down the business and retired soon after.[2]

Collections

Gabriel Lekegian's works are part of the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.[3]

References

  1. ^ "Armenian Photography Foundation". Armenian Photography Foundation. 
  2. ^ Nissan Perez. . Focus East: Early Photography in the Near East (1839-1885),. Abrams. 
  3. ^ "Door of an Arab House". collections.vam.ac.uk. 


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