The exhibition features 38 photographs included in the portfolio: “Photographs by James Robertson: Athens and Grecian Antiquities” (1853-1854). The portfolio was donated to the Benaki Museum Photographic Archive in 1989 by Rena Andreadi.
The photograph collection constitutes a unique archive of visual evidence to the condition of the monuments in Athens in the period following the Greek War of Independence and a rare example of past techniques and aesthetics of photographic art.
James Robertson was one of the major exponents of photography in the 19th century. He was also an engraver and in 1841 he was invited by Sultan Abdulmecid to take up the position of chief engraver at the Imperial mint at Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul.
Using Constantinople as his base - he lived there for 40 years - he carried out photographic tours of Athens in 1853-54 and again in 1856. He covered the Crimean War (1854-55) and the events of Sebastopol (1855-56). After 1881 he settled in Yokohama, where he died.