As a result of Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, the opening of the Suez Canal and France and Britain’s Middle East policy there was increased interest in the “Orient”. At the beginning of the 19th century, another way of making images, besides drawing them, was developed. This method could transfer anything visible to the human eye onto a two-dimensional surface with the correct perspective. The first fixed image was produced by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1827. Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre was also interested in obtaining a permanent image, and in 1839, he announced the invention of the daguerreotype to the French Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Fine Arts. Towards the end of the 19th century, the desire for colour was fulfilled with watercolour-painted photographs in pastel shades. Stereoscopic photography, which became a highly fashionable medium in the early 20th century, may be seen as an early form of virtual reality as, with the creation of this technique, the viewer gained an illusion of a 3-D image. This new device was of particular interest to travellers to the “Orient” in the 19th century.
Inocencia Serrano y Cerver, Marquise of Cerralbo, and Amelia del Valle y Serrano, in Oriental garment
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Cerralbo Museum, Madrid, Spain
Abdullah Frères' studio
Paper; albumen print
A portrait, with the subjects wearing typical Ottoman costume. Both their apparently easy pose and the setting are in absolute harmony with Orientalist aesthetics.