Regional overview: Europe

Although not historically a major area of collecting activity, the Museum’s European collection nonetheless contains interesting and important 19th-century material. The ethnographic study of European peoples was far more integral to anthropological thinking in the 19th century than the 20th, and Pitt-Rivers himself collected and displayed photographs of Europeans for comparative purposes. Many of the Museum’s most significant European photographs are cartes-de-visite of Scandinavian subjects – especially the Sami people of Finland, collected by the archaeologist Arthur Evans in the 1870s, and those copied by Carl Dammann of Hamburg, also in the 1870s. Many early images of European peoples are contained in an early series made for the Musée de Paris between 1862 and 1865.

The Museum also has a number of interesting late 19th-century images of Ireland, such as those by Robert J. Welch, a Belfast-born commercial photographer. Significant collections from eastern Europe include those by Fanny Foster in Yugoslavia from the 1920s onwards, John F. Baddeley in the Caucasus in the late 1890s, and Edith Durham’s photographs from Albania and the Balkans in the early 20th century.

Carte-de-visite of Finnish couple, collected by Arthur Evans in 1873. PRM 1941.8.78.

Carte-de-visite of Finnish couple, collected by Arthur Evans in 1873. PRM 1941.8.78.

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