Illustrations of 19th century Caucasian people and places now in the digital collection of the National Archives of Georgia
A series of 19th century illustrations of people and places from the South Caucasus, published in a French magazine some 150 years ago, can now be viewed by those interested in history and ethnography on the website of the National Archives of Georgia.
Showcasing urban and rural dwellers of different ethnicities who lived and worked in towns, villages and towns, the works show Georgia and the wider region as it appeared to ethnographers and travelers between the 1840s. and 1870.
The sketches were made by people like Russian Imperial Administrator and Painter Grigory Gagarin, artists Louis Champoiseau and M. Philippovitz and others and published in The Universal Journal Illustration, some of the historical editions of which are now kept in the Tbilisi Archives.
‘Vue sur Batoumi’, an illustration by Louis Champoiseau. Image via National Archives of Georgia.
Showing the appearance and clothing of noble families, officials and locals, the illustrations are accompanied by brief notes in French on the ethnic and social identities of those depicted.
Other sketches show sites such as Shekvetili Fort and the port city of Batumi on Georgia’s west coast of the Black Sea, places of worship for religious communities in the capital Tbilisi, public gathering spaces and workshops for artisans.
Views of the Caucasus Railway crossing Georgia in a west-east direction, construction of the now great Black Sea port of Poti, scenes of mobilization of the Imperial Russian Army in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 and rally of young people from Tbilisi in one of the city gardens, everything is visible in the drawings.
The Universal Journal Illustration was published in Paris from 1843, the weekly publishing illustrations to accompany their articles on countries and people around the world.