Robertson, one of the most notable names of nineteenth-century photography, received his vocational training in the London Royal Mint and remained the chief engraver of the Ottoman Imperial Mint for forty years, serving four successive sultans including Sultan Abdülmecid and Sultan Abdülaziz. He prepared designs, molds and models for gold and silver coins and in the 1850s also started to develop an interest in photography. James Robertson is the first photographer working in Istanbul known to have taken the first 360° panoramic photographs of the city. He gained much renown with his Istanbul photographs, as well as with the photo series he produced of Athens in 1854, of the Crimean War between 1854 and 1855, and of Jerusalem and Cairo, which he prepared in 1857 and which were displayed in exhibitions in London and Paris.
“Robertson, Photographer and Engraver in the Ottoman Capital” features not only his outstanding works for the Imperial Mint, but also reveals his mastery and manifold talents as an artist capable of creating stunning photographs and watercolor paintings of his adopted city’s colorful life, of its unique scenery, and its matchless monuments and art objects. The exhibition also includes numerous photos from Athens, the Crimea, Jerusalem and Cairo. An accompanying exhibition catalogue, prepared by Bahattin Öztuncay and designed by Yeşim Demir, presents Robertson’s biography alongside his works.
Exhibition and book design: Yeşim Demir