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

In: Muqarnas Online
View More View Less
  • 1 Department of Art History, Hunter College, City University of New York

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.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 766 496 59
Full Text Views 89 18 0
PDF Downloads 29 11 0