Saturday, August 28, 2010

Photographing the Orient

Al Ahram Weekly (Mohamed Mursi)

Anyone walking down Sherif Street in downtown Cairo is likely to have had their eyes drawn to the Lehnert and Landrock bookshop, its window display signalling the many treasures inside. These consist of the hundreds of old photographs that the original owners have left us, a heritage of indescribable beauty that pictures an "Orient" that no longer exists.

One of the original owners, Rudolf Lehnert, was born in Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in July 1878. His partner Ernst Landrock was born in Germany a month later. Lehnert, a gifted photographer, was the more artistically inclined of the two, with Landrock being the one with the more business acumen. In today's terminology, Landrock would be the agent acting to promote Lehnert's work.

It was when Lehnert was touring Europe on foot in 1903 that he decided to venture across the Mediterranean to look at sites in Tunisia. He ended up staying there for a year, and it was during this time that his friendship with Landrock began.

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