Lima, Peru: Courret Hermanos, [1863-64].
Unbound. 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 4¾" x 6¼", mounted on 9½" x 12½" sheets. Some repair to the spine of the cloth portfolio, some small splits at the folds, very good; the images are about 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 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.
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 views are exceptionally uncommon. Rare. *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 Polynésis Française*; Trehin, *Tahiti* (pp. 40 - 55). . A remarkable portfolio of rarely seen images.