Tag Archives: Latin American photography

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

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

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

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

The album of the baron d’Huart, circa 1863-1867

We just acquired a very interesting album of just ten prints that is the perfect follow up to our last post, as it includes one photograph featured in the collection of the comte de Germigny. All the prints are approximately of the same size, and obviously from the same photographer.

River crossing at poso del Marcho.

River crossing at poso del Marcho. The other prints of this image in our collection are titled “paseo del Diablo”

Luckily, the ex libris of the baron d’Huart is pasted on the first page of the album.

Ex libris of the baron Charles d'Huart

Ex libris of the baron d’Huart

But here’s the rub. TWO barons d’Huart participated in the Campagne du Mexique.

Arguably the most famous is Frédéric d’Huart, aide de camp of the count of Flanders. Frédéric was send to Mexico in January 1866 from Bruxelles to officially notify the empress Charlotte of the death of her father Leopold. On his way back from Mexico City to Vera Cruz, in march 1866, Frederic was killed by the Mexican guerilla. It is unlikely that he had time, on such a short and rushed stay, to gather photographic prints, even less to photograph himself.

We found a trace of the other d’Huart in the archives of the Commission Scientifique du Mexique (again…).

Charles d’Huart, a distant cousin of Frédéric, is from the French branch of the Huart family. Born in 1823 in the castle of Bélange, in eastern France, he graduates from école Polytechnique in 1846. In 1864, he is mentioned as a “capitaine d’artillerie” and a member of the Commission du Mexique, section 1, Zoology and Botany. In November 1867 he receives the medal of the order of Guadalupe. He is killed in 1870 during the siege of Strasbourg. He is probably the former owner of our album – and quite probably the photographer. We will soon check his records in the archive of the French army to learn more about this new name in the history of Mexican photography.

Vera Cruz, view from the sea

Vera Cruz, view from the sea

Vera Cruz, view of the beach and the pier.

Vera Cruz, view of the beach and the pier.

Vera Cruz, the hospital

Vera Cruz, the hospital

Soledad fort (?)

Soledad fort (?)

The gorge of the Soledad river

The gorge of the Soledad river

The road from Vera Cruz to Mexico city

The road from Vera Cruz to Mexico city

The Gallifet mentioned in the caption is certainly Gaston de Gallifet, a colorful character who will later be Minister of War. (cf en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaston_Alexandre_Auguste,_Marquis_de_Galliffet)

Oak tree in Medellin, near Vera Cruz

Oak tree in Medellin, near Vera Cruz

An hacienda, near Medellin

An hacienda, near Medellin

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A few views of Mexico, circa 1863-1866

This is the last of our post on the Germigny archives – this time, the photographer will, for the moment, remains an anonymous French soldier. The photographs are dated around 1863-1866 and follow the road from Veracruz to the city of Mexico. Some of them are remarkably charming… They were taken using glass plate negatives and are printed on albumen paper, most of them unmounted and untrimmed.

Port of Veracruz

Port of Veracruz

Veracruz

Veracruz, the custom house

 

A factory, Mexico

A factory, Mexico

Construction of a bridge for the railway, probably from Veracruz to the city of Mexico

Construction of a bridge for the railway, probably from Veracruz to the city of Mexico

A dog's nap...

A dog’s nap…

Factory in Mexico

Factory in Mexico

French soldiers posing outside of a farm.

French soldiers posing outside of a farm.

Pueblo

An other dog’s nap.

Paso del Diablo, near Vera Cruz

Paso del Diablo, near Vera Cruz

Paso del Diablo, near Vera Cruz

Same as previous image, but unmounted and untrimmed.

Colonial courtyard, City of Mexico

Colonial courtyard, City of Mexico

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And we take this opportunity to wish you all happy holidays…

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