Bring back some good or bad memories


December 20, 2013

Early Color Photographs of Africa and the Middle East From the 1910s

Albert Kahn’s photographic archive is a mesmerizing record of human history.

In 1909, the french banker Albert Kahn began his Archives of the Planet, a project as ambitious as its title suggests. During the next 22 years—and spanning a world war—Kahn sent a fleet of photographers to more than 50 countries around the globe to create a visual record.

Today, the archive is housed at the Musée Albert-Kahn, located in the financier’s former garden estate in suburban Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. His collection of 72,000 perfectly preserved color autochromes documents a world on the verge of the modern era. Snippets of history we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in sepia tones are pictured in vivid color.

A self-made man, Kahn built his fortune on investments throughout the French Empire and beyond. The philanthropic impulse to create the Archives of the Planet grew out of his pacifist beliefs. According to David Okuefuna, author of The Dawn of the Color Photograph: Albert Kahn’s Archives of the Planet, Kahn hosted weekly salons at his estate, where politicians, businessmen, and academics discussed international affairs over cigars. But Kahn wanted to do more than talk. Introduced to the autochrome in 1908, he found his mission in its technology. As a stand against war, he documented the rich cultural diversity of the world.

Auguste and Louis Lumière, the same brothers who pioneered cinematography, developed the autochrome process. To create color images, each varnished glass plate was coated with microscopic grains of potato starch—each tiny bit dyed red-orange, green, or blue-violet, with black shading the in-between spaces. The equipment was expensive, fragile, and heavy, which made the journeys taken by Kahn’s photographers (across oceans and continents) all the more remarkable.

From Albert Kahn’s photographic archive, here are some extraordinary color photographs of Africa and the Middle East from the 1910s.

1 comment:

  1. Remote Technology SupportDecember 20, 2013 at 4:08 PM


    So there's a good deal of pressure right now to train more pilots. You may have read in the news last month that Alteon Training, a Boeing subsidiary and the world's largest airline training company.




Browse by Decades

Popular Posts


09 10