Tag Archives: Architecture

The adventurous and tragic life of Jacob Granat

We just found in Paris around twenty nice Mexican photographs, mostly tipos and views
of the City of Mexico, titled and signed « J. Granat » – a name unknown to us. We quickly discovered that these photographs were widely produced as offset post card – but the
original photographic prints are rare. Included in the lot of prints was an unsigned street
view of calle San Francisco in Mexico City, with a Granat shop in the foreground, its likely
owner in the doorway. As good a clue as it gets.

Jacob Granat was born in 1871 in Lemberg (today Lviv), a city in Western Ukraine, at the
time part of the Austrian empire. In 1900, at the invitation of his uncle Jacob Kalt, he
moved to Veracruz in Mexico, and a year later in Mexico City. We know that he had an uncle
or a cousin working at the casa Boker, one of the most successful German owned business
in Mexico. Interestingly, Guillermo Kahlo worked at casa Boker during the last years of
the 19th century, and probably took his first photographs during the construction of the
new Boker shop in 1898-1899.

We also know that Jacob Granat became rapidly the « curio king » of the capital, selling luggages, post cards and other souvenirs from his shop in calle San Francisco, in the
Historical center. But the bulk of the business was apparently luggages, and we are
inclined to think that Jacob Granat was not the photographer, but the distributor of
these images, either in photographic prints or in post cards.

Guillermo Kahlo and Jacob Granat were born the same year (1871), were both German
speaking and both had strong connections with the Boker family. It is therefore almost
certain that they knew each other. It is tempting to speculate that when Granat opened
his « curio shop » he asked Kahlo for some tipos photographs. We will need further
research to validate this hypothesis.

Jacob Granat credits

Tipos Mexicanos

Calendario Azteca

Evangelista, Mexico

Tortillera, Mexico

Su Chata

Mercado

Los Consentidos de la casa

Ruinas de Mitla

Indias Amatecas

In 1906, Jacob Granat sold his shop to purchase the old Borda palace, where he opened
the first movie theater of the city, the famous Salon Rojo. Salon Rojo rapidly became the
most luxurious and successful theater in the city, and a center of night life for Mexico rich
and famous. It attracted politicians, notably Francisco Madero, who used to hold political meetings in Salon Rojo, and became a friend for Granat. In 1911, Madero was elected
president, and did probably reward Granat for his support.

In June 1912, Jacob Granat was one of the founder and the first president of Alianza Beneficencia Monte Sinai, the first Jewish charitable organization in Mexico.

in the mid 1920’s, Granat sold the salon Rojo and moved back to Europe, settling in Austria.
The reason of this exile are unknown. Some of Granat descendants speculate that he could
not deal with the grief from his friend Madero’s assassination.

Little is know of Jacob’s whereabout in Austria. Some of his relatives still living in Mexico
wrote recently that he tried to move back to Mexico after the Nazi invasion of Austria,
but could not, or was not allowed, to travel.

Jacob Granat was murdered by the Nazi regime at Auschwitz in 1943.

So let’s go back to the photograph of the Granat shop, and zoom in : here is the moving
image of a man I like to think is Jacob, the « curio king » in the doorway of his shop,
his face sadly in the shade of his straw boater.

Jacob Granat, Calle San Francisco, circa 1903

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http://www.enlacejudio.com/2012/10/25/la-historia-de-jacobo-granat-amigo-de-presidentes-pionero-de-la-comunidad-judia/

http://www.boker.net/html/edificio_boker.html

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_Borda

http://msinai.mx/nosotros/historia

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New early views of Venezuela, 1890

Main street of Barcelona, Anzoategui, 1890

Main street of Barcelona, Anzoategui, 1890

We just acquired this amazing album of early views of Venezuela, mostly Anzoategui and Vargas states, dated 1890. It comes from a Corsican family, probably a member, or a friend, of the Dominici family. The Dominici emigrated to Venezuela in the late 18th century and settled in Sucre state. They gave a least three importants venezuelians : Anibal Dominici (1837-1897) lawyer and politician, first Minister of Education of Venezuela ; Santos Dominici (1869-1954) prominent doctor and writer ; Pedro Cesar Dominici (1873-1954), writer and diplomat.

A street view of Puerto la Cruz, Anzoategui, 1890

A street view of Puerto la Cruz, Anzoategui, 1890

The owner of this album was most likely an engineer, with a strong interest in metallic structures.

As far as we know, most of these prints are unique.

Caribe indians

Caribe indians

Construction of the Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

Construction of the Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

Construction of the Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

Construction of the Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

Quebrada de Guanta

The beach of  Guanta

Quebrada de Guanta

Quebrada de Guanta

The Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

The Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas going thru Maiquetia

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas going thru Maiquetia

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas, Maiquetia

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

YOU CAN ALSO FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM AT GREGORYLEROYPHOTO.

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santos_Dominici

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_César_Dominici

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anìbal_Dominici

We just acquired this rare set of early views of Tachira state. Mostly mountainous, the andean state of Tachira and its capital San Cristobal were almost cut off from the rest of the country until the early 20th century, mostly due to the lack of roads – and 19th century photographs of the Venezuela Andes are extremely rare. It is therefore a pleasure to share this discovery with you.

These prints come from Germany and depict a couple of German shop or warehouse. German immigrants were especially active in coffee trade in Los Andes state at the time, as well as in Maracaibo. All the prints are captioned on verso in Spanish. Most of them are in stunning condition.

View of San Cristobal

View of San Cristobal

Plaza Paez, San Cristobal

Plaza Paez, San Cristobal

The slaughterhouse, San Cristobal

The slaughterhouse, San Cristobal

German shop in San Cristobal

German shop in San Cristobal

Detail of the previous photo

Detail of the previous photo

Storehouse of the casa Blohm, San Cristobal

Storehouse of the casa Blohm, San Cristobal

Detail of Casa Blohm, with a poster about "cuestion guyana"

Detail of Casa Blohm, with a poster about “cuestion guyana”

A German family house in San Cristobal

A German family house in San Cristobal

San Cristobal, the electrical power plant.

San Cristobal, the electrical power plant.

The electrical power plant from the outside

The electrical power plant from the outside

Barrio Guzman, San Cristobal

Barrio Guzman, San Cristobal

The barrio Guzman was built in the early 1880’s after the 1875 earthquake almost destroyed San Cristobal.

Torbes river, San Cristobal

Torbes river, San Cristobal

Barria de la Guaira, Rubio

Barria de la Guaira, Rubio

The City of Rubio, is ten kilometers South-West of San Cristobal, close to the Colombian border.

Main street of Rubio

Main street of Rubio

Merida and the Sierra Nevada

Merida and the Sierra Nevada

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Merille : photographer ? Publisher ? Pirate ?

We previously wrote about issues of authorship in early Mexican photography. But a set of cartes de visite, recently discovered, shed a new light on this complex subject.

Most of these carte de visite sized prints are mounted on board. On the verso, they are stamped with the name and address of “Merille, fotografo, 2da calle de San Francisco, n° 8, Mexico”. In itself, a wet stamp on the back of a carte de visite is unusual, as most studio photographers would have their cards printed by a typographical printer. Even more curious is the carte bellow.

mex-cdv335

 

Merille just stamped a Julio Amiel card ! On most of the other cards, the Julio Amiel name have been carefully erased, but is still visible…

 

mex-cdv336 mex-cdv337

Julio Amiel (certainly a French Jules Amiel) is known to have been active in Mexico city from 1860 to 1864. His studio was at n°7, 2da calle de San Francisco – so just next door or in front of the future studio or shop of Merille. It is believed that Amiel sold his studio in 1864 to François Aubert. Of Merille, we know almost nothing : only  the address of his studio. His first name is controversial : one source names him as Auguste, an other one as François. According to Palmquist and Kailbourn, in their hugely useful Pioneer Photographers from the Mississippi to the Continental Divide, he was active in Mexico city from 1864 to 1867. As we know with more certainty that François Aubert was active in Mexico from 1864 to 1869, that would place Merille and Aubert at the same time in Mexico city, facing each other, quite literally, in the calle de San Francisco…

But here is the rub : Merille is a well known name, and a lot of images bearing his stamp can be found in museum in the US or Mexico. But I have never personally seen a Merille photograph that was not actually by Aubert or an other photographer, including from now on Amiel. And all the photographs bellow, stamped on the back by Merille, fit pretty well in this theory : Merille was a publisher, not a photographer. (All titles are the original in Spanish inscribed in ink on the versos).

Indians

Indians

Tortilleras

Tortilleras

Emperatriz Carlota

Emperatriz Carlota (probably by Disderi, and dated 1868, after the death of the emperor).

Cocinera

Cocinera

Calle de Plateros

Calle de Plateros

Tortilleras

Tortilleras

Esquina de las calles Empedradillo, Escalerillas y Tacuba.

Esquina de las calles Empedradillo, Escalerillas y Tacuba.

Cupula de Santa Tereza à Vera Cruz

Cupula de Santa Tereza à Vera Cruz

Portail des marechaux

Portail des maréchaux

Catedral al Poniente

Catedral al Poniente

Chapultepec

Chapultepec

Templo de Santa Gertrudis en Orizaba

Templo de Santa Gertrudis en Orizaba

Cathedral

Cathedral

Calendario azteca

Calendario azteca

La Profesa

La Profesa

Looking forward to hear from my Mexican friends : do you know of any photographs that you can, without doubt, attribute to Merille ? Or is he an early and shameless photographic pirate ?

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Rare views of Cuba, circa 1892-1894

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We just acquired a rare set of Cuban early photography titled Album Panoramico de Yateras, Guantanamo, Isla de Cuba, fotografos : Maurice Hargous y Hermano.

cafetal photography

Cafetal l’Ermitage (owned by Henri Lescaille).

Maurice Hargous, born in Bayonne, France, in 1864, moved to Cuba in 1891, along with his brother Paul (born in 1868). Maurice settled in la Havana, while Paul opened a photographic studio in the Eastern province of Guantanamo. Both brothers left Cuba for Haïti in 1895. We can therefore easily date these photographs around 1892-1894.

Cover of the album

Cover of the album

Almost all the photographs are views of coffee plantations (cafetal in Spanish) from the lush and mountainous Yateras area, around 20 kilometers north-east of the city of Guantanamo.

Most of these cafetales were owned by French colonists, which would explain how this album ended up in Paris. Coffee growing in Eastern Cuba started at the beginning of the 19th century, as the Haitian revolution drove the French out of Hispanolia across the narrow Windward passage to Cuba. Most of them settled in the underdeveloped Guantanamo province. In 1854, the Yateras municipality had thirty-six cafetales, most of them owned by French families. This album was probably owned by a “F.P.”, most likely Fernand Pons, owner of the San Fernando plantation – the photograph of his cafetal is the first in the album…

Cafetal San Fernando

Cafetal San Fernando, Fernand Pons on his horse ?

cafetal photography

Cafetal Santa Rita

cafetal photography

Cafetal Bella Vista (owned by Jean Begué)

cafetal photography

Cafetal San Cornelio

cafetal photography

Cafetal San Dionicio (detail)

cafetal photography

Cafetal San Dionicio

cafetal photography

Cantina de Jesus Navaro

cafetal photography

Cafetal Grignon

cafetal photography

Cafetal la Güira

cafetal photography

Cafetal Silencio

cafetal photography

Cafetal la Deseada

cafetal photography

Cafetal Dios Ayuda (owned by Miss Philipps).

Most of this cafetales were small plantations, with less than 200 acres of cultivated land. Typically, plantations included the owner’s house, terraced drying floors, production areas for milling and roasting, and workers’ quarters.

The entire area of Yateras, and these nowadays ruined plantations, have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.

The UNESCO website states, concerning the integrity of the area : “The Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the Southeast of Cuba has survived intact primarily due to the fact that the area was mostly abandoned in the early 20th century as this region’s traditional coffee growing techniques were increasingly unable to compete with new methods adopted elsewhere in Latin American. The large area included within the inscribed property, of 171 plantations in over 800 square kilometres, has permitted the preservation of a cultural landscape for coffee production from the agricultural level, to its processing, and the roads, trails and bridges that linked the product to market. Individual plantations include the owner’s house (often based on Basque traditions), aqueducts, flourmills, fermentation tanks, drying sheds, and barracks.

Current threats to the inscribed property are primarily due to its status as a largely abandoned archaeological site and the reclamation of the landscape by nature. Efforts have been made to clear and fence plantations in order to protect them from intrusions. The region is an active tectonic zone with a history of earthquakes. In future, this area may come under increased threat from uncontrolled tourism and the exploitation of natural resources although currently accessibility to the majority of the cultural properties is very limited due to its isolation. Additional potential threats to the site are the possible effects of climate change on coffee plantations, particularly drought.”

http://grimh.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&layout=edit&id=746&lang=fr

https://www.ecured.cu/Yateras_(Presencia_Francesa)

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1008