"Constantinople: Kara-Keui et vue de Péra” reads the caption in the lower left-hand corner of this skillfully colorized view of late-Ottoman Istanbul, a city connecting East and West and driven by global commerce and trade, at a time when the advances of the Industrial Revolution in ﬁelds including photographic processes were connecting people as never before.
The view looks north, across the city’s most famous bridge, to the neighborhoods of Karaköy and Pera, topped by the Galata Tower. To the left of the bridge, the Golden Horn waters teem with sundry watercraft; to the right, smoke rises from the stacks of oceangoing steam-ships. Other details of daily life can be seen, too: horse-drawn carriages; numbered buses; a gas streetlight; a pole for telegraph wires; an open-air shop; decorative roofs.
Photochrom images like this one offered “the truthfulness of a photograph with the color and richness of an oil painting,” according to the catalog of The Detroit Photographic Company. The photochrom was created by a “direct photographic transfer of an original negative onto litho and chromographic printing plates,” stated Hans Jakob Schmid, the Swiss printer who developed the process.
Each image originated with a single black-and-white plate or negative. From it up to 15 separations were made, each for a separate color, on lithographic limestone coated with a light-sensitive surface that was pressed against a reversed halftone of the negative and exposed to daylight. It could take as long as a day to produce a single image, but the result could be mass produced in books and postcards at a time when color photography was not yet commercially viable.
The gallery below shows six more photochom views of Istanbul, beginning with a view across the Galata Bridge from the other direction.