Documenting a Changing Iran

The Iran that Sevruguin photographed at the end of the nineteenth century was in the midst of change. During Nasir el-Din’s close to fifty-year reign, the country was introduced to new Western technologies, such as photography, trains, and trams, as well as women’s fashion. Sevruguin photographed these modern innovations in addition to more traditional Iranian scenes, including Iranian monuments and material culture such as tramways and trains. He also adopted, yet diverged from, approaches that were common to Western photographers seeking to document Iran during their travels. For example, while his photographs of Iranian religious and ethnic groups echoed Orientalist stereotypes, Sevruguin experimented with different perspectives and lighting methods. This approach brought a sense of individuality and humanity to his work. Some scenes were clearly staged, however, showing individuals in a manner that may not reflect everyday life.

Clock tower of Golestan Palace in Tehran P. 1114 : N. 23650_0.png

Clock tower of Golestan Palace in Tehran (P. 1114 / N. 23650)

One of the monumental staircases at Persepolis P. 1238 : N. 23639_0.png

One of the monumental staircases at Persepolis (P. 1238 / N. 23639) 

Chogan Gorge Relief, Victory of Shapur I P. 1237 : N. 23692_0.png

Road between Tehran and the Caspian Sea P. 1222 : N. 23679_0_0.png
Mount Damavand near Tehran P. 1227 : N. 23639_0.png
Men sitting on ramparts outside of Tehran P. 1131 : N. 23667_0.png

A street in Tehran opening onto Canon Square P. 1134 : N. 23670_0.png

Street in Tehran with tramway P. 1126 : N. 23662_0.png

Qajar relief of Fath Ali Shah located at Chesmeh-Ali in Rayy P. 1145 : N. 23676_0.png

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