Immigrant Narratives: The Ottoman Sultans’ Portraits in Elisabeth Leitner’s Family Photo Album, circa 1862–72

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Abstract

This article is a study of the family photo album of Elisabeth Leitner (ca. 1842?–1908), a Hungarian immigrant in the Ottoman empire. The album contains a complete set of cartes de visite portraits of the Ottoman sultans by the Abdullah Frères. As the only surviving example of such a collection with a known provenance, it provides a rare opportunity for understanding how such images were used in the context of identity formation and social mobility undertaken by a member of the immigrant population. The album, which has never been studied before, is also a fascinating source for investigating the history of Hungarian immigrants in the Ottoman empire who were displaced after the 1848 Revolution. The article approaches the intriguingly autobiographical album by means of a close reading of Elisabeth Leitner’s diaries and unfinished autobiography. My interpretation serves to dismantle notions of a carefree global cosmopolitanism and exposes a historiographical bias that privileges men and their collections of images and ethnographic artifacts over those of women. Elisabeth Leitner’s writings and photographic collection also represent a vast and entirely untapped resource for investigating cultural contacts between Europe and the Ottoman empire in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Immigrant Narratives: The Ottoman Sultans’ Portraits in Elisabeth Leitner’s Family Photo Album, circa 1862–72

in Muqarnas Online

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Figures

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     Photograph of Elisabeth Leitner by Lambert Weston, ca. 1880s. (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/2)
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     Left page: Osman I, Orhan Gazi (top); Murad I, Beyazid I(bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery AMEL 10/6)
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     Right page: Mehmed Celebi, Murad II (top); Meh­med II, Beyazid II (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/6)
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     Left page: Selim I, Suleyman I (top); Selim II, Murad III (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery AMEL 10/6)
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     Right page: Mehmed III, Ahmed I (top); Osman II, Mustafa I (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/6)
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     Left page: Ibrahim, Mehmed IV (top); Suleyman II, Ahmed II (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery AMEL 10/6)
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     Right page: Mustafa II, Ahmed III (top); Mahmud I, Mustafa III (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/6)
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     Left page: Osman III, Abdulhamid I (top); Selim III, Mahmud II (bottom). Right page: Abdülmecid, Abdülaziz (top); horse-drawn carriage, water carriers (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/6)
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     Front cover of Elisabeth Leitner’s photo album. (­Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/6)
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     Left page: Ruhmeshalle with the bronze statue of Bavaria by Leo von Klenze, 1843–53; Wittersbacher Palace by Friedrich von Gärtner, 1848 (top); design for a church in Munich by Friedrich von Gärtner, ca. 1840s; Bavarian State Library, 1843 (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery AMEL 10/6)
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     Right page: Views of Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, Kurhaus, Kursaal from park, and Casino Gaming Hall. (Photos: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/6)
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     Left page: unidentified sitters; the bottom left portrait is by the Abdullah Frères. (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery AMEL 10/6)
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    Right page: Julie Salis Schwabe, and an unidentified sitter (top); Lotti Schnider and Mr. Schnider, Wiesbaden (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/6)
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     Left page: Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) and Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary (top); Duchess Sophie Charlotte and King Ludwig II, 1867 (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery AMEL 10/6)
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     Right page: Giuseppe Garibaldi and Thomas Carlyle (top); Freiburg Cathedral and Norwich Cathedral (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery AMEL 10/6)
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     Opening page: Elisabeth Leitner with the Schwaab sisters (top); Gottlieb Leitner and Johann Moritz Leitner (­bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/6)
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     Leitner family in Constantinople, glass collodion negative on albumen paper, ca. 1860. (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10)
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     Last page: Guido Reni’s Ecce Homo and Guercino’s Madonna of the Sparrow (top); Raphael’s Spasimo di Sicilia and Murillo’s Annunciation (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery AMEL 10/6)
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     View of the Frauenkirche from the English Garden, Munich, and Glyn Garth Guest House, Menai Straits, Bangor (top); Frankfurt Cathedral during and before the fire in 1867 (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/6)
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     Sultan Mahmoud Khan II, hand colored mezzotint, 38 × 27 cm. From John Young, A Series of Portraits of the Emperors of Turkey from the Foundation of the Monarchy to the Year 1808: Engraved from Pictures Painted at Constantinople … (London: William Bulmer and Co., 1815). (Photo: courtesy of the New York Public Library Rare Book Collection)
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     Osman III and Abdülhamid I (top); Mahmud II and Selim III (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/6)
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    Ahmed I Album, Topkapı Palace Museum Library, B.408, fol. 32r.
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    Silsilename, Topkapı Palace Museum Library, 1324.
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     Dining room at 112 Eaton Square, home of Rt. Hon. L. S. Amery, M. P. The photograph shows the room with Qajar and Mughal paintings, ca. 1942. (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/38)
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     Abdülmecid and Abdülaziz (top); horse-drawn carriage and water carriers (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/6)
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     Three unidentified sitters and Empress Eugénie (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/6)
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    Simitci (Turkish pretzel seller) and hamal (porter) (top); marulcu (lettuce seller) and lovers in Bursa dress (bottom). (Photo: ©Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Leopold Amery, AMEL 10/6)
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     Riza-i Abbasi, A Dervish and a Shepherd (top); Lovers and a Pipe Smoker (bottom), 1630s. (Photo: © National Library of Russia, Dorn 489, f. 73v, St. Petersburg)
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    Lovers, from Leopold Amery’s collection of Qajar paintings from the period of Muhammad Shah. (Photos: Falk, Qajar Paintings, n.p. Pls. 22, 49, 63)

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