Lima, Peru: Courret Hermanos, [1863-64].
First edition. Quarto. String-tied quarter calf and cloth portfolio titled in gilt ("Tahiti."). The portfolio holds 16 different mounted albumen prints of Tahiti, each image is 4.75" x 6.25" (12 x 16 cm), mounted on a (9.5" x 12.5" (24 x 32 cm) sheet. Some repair to the spine of the cloth portfolio, some small splits in the folds, very good, the images are fine with slight soiling on some of the mats (one image displays some damage but only as copied from the negative). Each print bears a blind stamp on the mat: "Courret Hermanos Fotografos Calle Mercaderes 197 Lima"; and is accompanied by an autograph notation in pencil identifying the scene on the verso of the individual mats. Among the earliest photographs of Tahiti preceded only by the limited work of Gustav Viaud who arrived one year before. Courret was a French-born photographer who arrived in Peru in 1860, and formed his own studio with his brother in 1863. He left Lima in September of 1863 to visit Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands. One can follow his itinerary in the contemporary notices that appeared in Le Messager de Tahiti, the local newspaper published weekly in Papeete. He left Tahiti in March of 1864 and returned to Lima, worked in his studio as a photographer, and sold the photographs of Tahiti individually and in groups.This collection includes views of the capitol city of Papeete with Europeanized streets, government buildings, single story homes, a small dock with dugout canoes, native huts, native children dressed in white assembled seated in the forecourt of a building (perhaps a church), several views of the harbor with sailing vessels, a waterfall, and street scenes.Rare. Courret's images of Peru and surrounding South American countries appear in the marketplace (nine auction records in the last 14 years, all for single images), but even single images of his Tahitian images are exceptionally uncommon. OCLC locates a single similar portfolio (Getty Museum) with only seven prints (under the title Views of Tahiti, noting that the title was devised by the cataloger); absent from both Kroepelien, Tuimata and O'Reilly and Reitman, Bibliographie de Tahiti et de la Polynesis Francaise; Trehin, Tahiti (pp. 40 - 55). A remarkable portfolio of rarely seen images.A list of the autograph captions follows:1. "Palais Pomare Papeete."2. "Maison [ ? ]." Close-up view of a house behind a white picket fence.3. "Government [ ? ]." View of Papeete? - looking toward the bay with a three-masted frigate at anchor in the harbor.4. "Government [ ? ]." View of Papeete? - looking toward the bay.5. "Cascade a [ ? ]." View of a waterfall: Vaimahuta? Faaruumi?6. "Pointe de Papeuriri." [?].7. "[ ? ] di Papeete." View of the Palais Pomare Papeete.8. "[ ? ] a Papeuriri." View of native hut.9. "Imenee [ ? ]." Getty: "a large Tahitian choir seated on a picket-fenced lawn."10. "[ ? ] a Hitiaa." View of a native shoreline settlement?11. "Les [ ? ] a Hitiaa." A group of five Tahitian children, four girls and one boy, seated in front of an old-growth tree.12. "Pointe di Faaa a Papeete." Getty: "a view looking seaward across the rooftops of Faaa."13. "Papeete." View of Papeete and bay, with a three-masted frigate at anchor in the harbor.14. "Pointe de Pare, Papeete [?]." View of shoreline settlement with dugout canoes and a sailing vessel.15. "[ ? ] di Aivoli a Papeete [?]." View of three European men[?] standing in front of a portico of a house on a tree-lined street.16. "Le government a Papeete." View of a government building.