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Nicholas Victor Artamonoff: Picturing Constantinople 1930-1947


Russian Nicholas Victor Artamonoff (1908-1989) arrived in Istanbul in 1922 at age 14 to study at the Robert College, an American school for boys, where he discovered the art of photography.

Nicholas Victor Artamonoff: Picturing Constantinople 1930-1947

Captivated by the City's cultural heritage and armed with a Rollei camera he embarked in 1930, following the footsteps of historians and archaeologists, on a journey to discover Byzantine Constantinople and to record photographically the imposing monuments and their architectural and sculptural details.

Artamonoff captured the Byzantine ruins from the vantage point of the people who live and interact with them on a daily basis.

The value of his photographic archive (which comprises more than 1000 images) for the study of Byzantine Constantinople is rich, interesting and especially important given the rapid deterioration, shoddy restoration works and the predatory destruction of the City's cultural heritage.

We present a small sample of his work.

Zeyrek Kilise Camii (Monastery of Christ Pantocrator), as seen from the southwest, March 1936. The former triptych church of the 12th century, which in 1936 served as a mosque, was in a deprived neighborhood. Pictured are children playing, a woman with a black scarf carries water and a wooden house - probably the house of a Turkish imam- abuts the medieval structure [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Bodrum Camii (Myrelaion), south façade, April 1935. The photo is before the restoration of the 10th century building, which took place in 1964-5 and significantly changed the masonry and the architectural lines. Historic photos like this are essential for the study of the original architecture of the temple [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] The Monastery of Agios Ioannis Stoudios (İmrahor Camii), April 1935.  A man standing in front of the vestibule of the Temple of the 5th century. The İmrahor Camii ceased to operate after the fire of 1920 [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Toklu Dede Mescidi, March 1937. The Byzantine church built in the 11th and early 12th century, lasted until 1929, when it was sold for building materials. Only the south wall, decorated with frescoes and part of the apse were saved from demolition. The Archaeological Service of Turkey (WDD) found no trace of the church in 2008 [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks]
Fethiye Camii (Monastery of the Theotokos Pammakaristou), exterior view from Southwest, May 1937.  Artamonoff took this picture just before the restoration of the building which took place in 1938-1940.  When he photographed the building again in 1938, the wooden structure that rests on the southern wall of the temple and washing hanging out to dry had of course disappeared [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Gate of the Great Palace in the coastal fortifications of the Marmara Sea, February 1937.  An older photo of 1927 showed a group of students posing in front of the remnants of the portal. This Artamonoff photo was probably taken durng a similar excursion [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Tekfur Sarayı (Palace of Porphyrogenitus), South facade, May 1937. This Byzantine Palace (13th century), built between the internal and external Land Walls, is the only example of Byzantine domestic architecture in Constantinople. Alexander Van Millingen (1899), a scholar of Byzantine architecture, had dedicated a whole chapter to the Tekfur Sarayı in his book 'Byzantine Constantinople'. In the 1920s and 1930s, the German archaeologists B. Meyer-Plath and A. M. Schneider revisited the site during their investigation at the Land Walls of the City. In this photo, Artamonoff recorded not only the Byzantine structure, but also the wooden houses in the shadow of the Byzantine ruins [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] The Land Walls in the Yedi Kule, June 1935. Artamonoff recorded the outer and inner walls of the city that lay north of the Northwest Tower of Yedi Kule. Life outside the walls was quiet: wooden carts, simple houses, shops or cafes, a stone bridge, three boys and a dog walk on the cobbled Street that stretches along what was once a moat [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks]
The Land Walls southwest of Tekfur Sarayı, May 1937. The Land Walls visually marking out the city. The movement of people along and through them, with the backdrop of the monuments of towers that disappear on the horizon, are typical of Artamonoff's photos [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] The Land Walls near Belgrat Kapı (Xylokerkos Gate) as seen from the North, May 1937. Our gaze moves from one tower to the next along the Land Walls of Byzantine Constantinople [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] The Golden Gate (Porta Aurea) in the Yedi Kule, February 1937. Artamonoff here records the gate's exterior and an Ottoman Cemetery from the paved road that stretches along the walls [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Silivri Kapı (Gate of Zoodochos Pigi or Melantiados) at the Land Walls, May 1937. Just outside the Land Walls, the sacred spring of Zoodohos Pigi was a popular pilgrimage site for the Greek Orthodox population, especially on Good Friday of Easter [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks]
The Land Walls near Edirnekapı (Gateway Charisiou or Polyandrou Gate), May 1937. Children, women and men enjoying a beautiful spring day next to the walls [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] The Boukoleontos Palace and the Harbour, February 1937. Artamonoff photographed the Palace from the same angle that Alexander van Millingen, the German scholar of Byzantine architecture, had photographed and 1899. The construction of the coast road in 1956 cut off the palace from the sea of Marmara [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] The Aqueduct of Valens (Bozdoğan Kemeri) with the Fatih Camii seen on the horizon over the aqueduct, March 1936 [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] The Kariye Camii (Monastery of Christ in Chora or Chora Monastery). The western end of the southern facade, March 1937 [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks]
Exterior facade of the Hippodrome, June 1935. Houses have usurped the vast infrastructure of the Hippodrome. Today, neither those houses nor the cobbled pavement exist [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Strucure of unknown function found under the Greek Orthodox church of Agios Minas (19th century), October 1936. It was discovered in 1935 by German archaeologist Alfons Maria Schneider. When Artamonoff photographed it a year later, the arched chamber had been converted into storage space. In the 1970s, it was part of a carpenter's workshop [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Gate of the Great Palace in the Coastal Fortifications of the Marmara Sea, February 1937. The frieze with the monogram of Justinian was reused in the construction of the sea walls [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Remains of a  tower in Coastal Fortifications of the Great Palace of the Marmara Sea, February 1937 Columns and other building materials were recycled for the construction of the tower [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks]
Sekbanbaşı Mescidi, in February 1937. The Byzantine church (built in the 11th and early 12th century) was converted to a mosque in the 15th century. The mosque fell into disuse in the 1920s during the widening of the Ataturk Avenue in 1943 and was demolished in 1952 [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] The interior of the Byzantine chapel, southeast of Agios Ioannis Stoudios (İmrahor Camii), July 1944. The chapel, which was converted into a distillery when Artamonoff photographed it, no longer exists. Pericles, the owner of distillery, stands on the stairs. The unknown gentleman on the right could be a friend who accompanied Artamonoff that day [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] The Yedikule as seen from the minaret of Agios Ioannis Stoudios (İmrahor Camii), February 1937. The Byzantine and Ottoman Yedikule towers dominate the landscape [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Yedikule as seen from the Minaret of Agios Ioannis Stoudios (İmrahor Camii), February 1937. The Byzantine and Ottoman Yedikule towers dominate the landscape [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks]
The monumental base of the Arcadius Column, March 1936. Today the base still belongs to a family which continues to build on the small plot that surrounds it [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] The Kırkçeşme spring and the Aqueduct of Valens (Bozdoğan Kemeri), April 1935. Men and children are fetching water from the Ottoman fountain that is decorated with Byzantine bas-reliefs [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Agios Ioannis Stoudios (İmrahor Camii), February 1937. Artamonoff climbed an abandoned minaret to photograph the eastern end of the building and the neighbourhood around it. The photo clearly shows the rearranging of the sanctuary with the construction of a mihrab to convert the Church into a mosque. The İmrahor Camii fell into disuse after the fire of 1920.  However, it was rebuilt in order to work again as a mosque [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Anema Tower, the internal-L-shaped Chamber, March 1937.  An unknown man holding a torch photographed inside the Anema Tower, the Palace of Vlachernae (12th century) [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks]
Anema Prison, interior arches, March 1937. The vaulted halls of Anema Prison were mapped, photographed and studied in great detail by Alexander Van Millingen (1899) [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Anema Prison, March 1937. This photo is a further example of Artamonoff's fondness of photographing a succession of monumental architectural elements like arches, columns, and towers that disappear into the horizon [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Binbirdirek Cistern, interior view, May 1937. The cistern is today a tourist attraction, restaurant and event space [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Binbirdirek Cistern, interior view, May 1937 [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks]
Cistern Ipek Bodrum, Interior view, May 1937. A forest of columns of a variety of rhythms holds the vaulted roof of drained cistern [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Cistern Ipek Bodrum, detail of column, May 1937 [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Fenari Isa Camii (Monastery of Livos), view from above, May 1937 [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Agios Ioannis Stoudios (İmrahor Camii), West entrance, December 1936. Artamonoff photographed the ruins of the Basilica of St. John Stoudios, with its magnificent building of the 5th century from behind the Minaret and walls that appear at the entrance [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks]
Marble baptismal font from the sacred Monastery of Virgin Mary of Odigitria Monastery, near the Palace of Mangana, November 1935. The 12-sided font was discovered in excavations conducted in 1921-1923 by the French military forces during the occupation of Istanbul by the Allied forces [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] The Propylaea of Agia Sophia constructed by Theodosius II in 404-15, June 1939. The sculptural and architectural fragments of the pre-Justinian Temple were excavated by German archaeologist Alfons Maria Schneider in 1935-6 [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Baptismal font in the baptistery of Agia Sophia, September 1943 [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Frescoes (late 13th century) from the Church of Agia Euphemia, January 1940. The ruins of the temple were discovered during the demolition of the old prison building in the Northwest of the Hippodrome, Istanbul, in 1939.  Artamonoff did not lose the opportunity to record their findings [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks]
Agia Euphemia, outside the eastern apse of the hexagon with the throne and tombs in the background, in December 1942. The interest of Artamonoff in the building continued throughout the course of the excavations in 1942 by the German Archaeological Institute [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Agia Euphemia, nested column of the iconostasis decorated with green and red stones, December 1942 [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Agia Euphemia, November 1945 [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] The chapel and walls of the church Agios Ioannis Stoudios (İmrahor Camii), in July 1944. The chapel that was built above a corner of the cistern no longer exists [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks]
Fenari Isa Camii (Monastery of Livos), North (Theotokos) Church narthex with graves, April 1935. The sarcophagi under the narthex were discovered during excavations of 1929 headed by Greek archaeologist Theodore Makridis, then Vice-President of the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul. They disappeared in the 1960s and their fate remains unknown [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] Column and base from fragments of the Arch of Theodosios in the Simkeş Hanı, November 1945. Following the discovery of architectural and sculptural fragments while enlarging the Ordu Avenue in the Simkeş Hanı, excavations were conducted in 1927-8 by the British archaeologists Stanley Casson and David Talbot Rice [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] View of Karaköy square and Galatas bridge, 1931. This photo, which is one of the earliest examples of the Artamonoff Collection, depicts a pier that no longer exists. The Karaköy Mosque (1903) located in the middle of the image between two buildings, designed by the Italian architect Raimondo D'Aronco, was destroyed in 1958 within the framework of the urban development plan started by Adnan Menderes [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks] View from Edirne Kapı (Gate Charisiou or Polyandroy Gate from where it is said that Mohammed the Conqueror entered)  towards the Fatih Camii, 1935. From the top of Edirne Kapı at one of the highest points of the Byzantine walls, Artamonoff photographed the city on the verge of transformation [Credit: © Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks]

 View the entire collection of Nicholas V. Artamonoff's photographs at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection website

Author: Marousa Thomas | Source: Lifo.gr [January 18, 2017]
TANN

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