- What’s On
Through the lens of Achilles Samandji and Eugene Dalleggio
A beautiful album of photographs that documents the great city of Constantinople at the turn of the 20th century and revisits it in the 1960s. Achilles Samantzis - ‘Apollo Effendi’ - was born in Constantinople in 1870 and lived a sizeable part of his life among the thriving Greek community there. Photographer to the sultan and to the Ottoman princes, and passionate about his native city, he let it ‘seduce and guide him’ in his choice of subject matter, resulting in a huge collection of photographs of its buildings, people, vistas and countryside.When the family returned to Athens, his amateur photographer son-in- law Evgenios Dalezios was the first to classify and catalogue this collection, adding his own images the were shot in the early 1960s on return trips to city. With this project he hoped to ‘rescue his family’s cultural heritage’ while ‘preserving the memory of Achilles Samantzis and the memory of Constantinople at its zenith’.
An extremely interesting introduction by Costas Stamatopoulos details the historical context of the Greek community in the city at that time and perfectly complements the large selection of stunning images. It has been divided into various sections - such as Byzantine monuments, walls, Ottoman monuments, scenes of everyday life, city neighbourhoods, the suburbs and the countryside - each with a brief introduction.