About the Collection
The Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection includes 542 photographs taken in Istanbul and five archaeological sites in Western Turkey (Ephesus, Hierapolis, Laodicea on the Lycus, Pergamum, Priene) from 1935 to 1945. The high quality photographs are of great value as they show buildings, sites, and objects that no longer exist or are in a better state of preservation than today. As Ernst Kitzinger (a former director of Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks) informed Artamonoff himself in a letter of December 13, 1962, the collection has “great documentary value […] because of the subsequent vicissitudes that have befallen some of the monuments concerned."
The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) of Dumbarton Oaks holds the original negatives of these photographs. They were acquired on July 11, 1962, through the support of Robert Van Nice, a Research Associate at Dumbarton Oaks who had worked in Istanbul conducting a large scale survey of the architecture of Hagia Sophia. Since coming to Dumbarton Oaks, Artamonoff’s photographs have been used in publications and research by many distinguished scholars.
In 1980 all of the original Artamonoff negatives were copied to safety film negatives by ICFA for their preservation, and are housed in ICFA cold storage. All Artamonoff negatives were digitized in 2010 by ICFA interns Sharon Ke, Sara Wendell, Erica Abbey, and Luiza deCamargo and are now stored on a hard drive.
The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives of the Smithsonian Institution holds 477 Artamonoff photographs (3 of which are also deposited at ICFA). David Hogge, Archivist for the Freer and Sackler Archives, and volunteers digitized these photographs in 2011 and 2012. The photographs were identified by William J. Harper, a graduate student in the Department of Archaeology and History of Art at Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2012-2013.
This site also features 124 photographs found in ICFA's Robert Van Nice collection. These photographs are believed to have been taken by Artamonoff. They document some of the same locations as Artamonoff, were taken during the same years that he was active in Istanbul, and display an artistic perspective that is similar to that of Artamonoff.
This online exhibit has been created by Günder Varinlioğlu, former Byzantine Assistant Curator of ICFA, and Alyssa DesRochers, former ICFA intern. The project is ongoing; research continues and the site is a work in progress. Comments or questions about the photographs, photographer or project are welcome.