31 Musicien Negre

31 • Musicien Negre

(black musician)
Tunisia, second half of 19th century
49 × 40 cm (framed); photograph
Writing bottom left: ‘No.376 – Musicien nègre’
Writing bottom right: ‘Phot. Garrigues – Tunis’

Maison Garrigues was one of the leading photographic studios of 19th-century Tunis, founded by J. André Garrigues (1851–1901). Compared to its neighbouring North African countries, far fewer images are known to have survived from that time in Tunisia, and Garrigues was probably one of the first studios to be set up in Tunis, advertising itself as ‘Photograph de S.A. Le Bey de Tunis’. It was certainly one of the most successful, even setting up an outpost in Paris at 1, boulevard de Strasbourg in 1868.

Garrigues’s output consisted principally of street-life and viewpoints suitable for inclusion in early tourist portfolios. However, there are some outstanding portraits of local people, such as this travel- weary troubadour holding his home-made instrument, in tatters just like all his other worldly possessions. Just his gaze remains proud and undiminished.