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Explore the Exhibition

Photographic title page from Francis Bedford's Middle East views of 1862. Includes a copy of Bedford's view of the 'Mosque of Omar from the Governor's House' in Jerusalem (see RCIN 2700932).

Photographic title page: 'Photographic Pictures made by Mr Francis Bedford during the Tour in the East' ©

In 1862, the photographer Francis Bedford was asked to accompany the Prince of Wales on a four-month tour of the Middle East. The journey began in Windsor on 6 February. The Prince and his companions would travel through Egypt, the Holy Land, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece before heading back to Britain in June. In 1862, this region was under the control of the Ottoman Empire, centred on Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul).

Travelling with heavy equipment, Bedford photographed the architecture, landscape and peoples of the regions visited. Of the 200 or so images he made, 172 were publicly exhibited in a London gallery after the tour. The public could also purchase copies. The photographs were regarded as a great success. They helped shape the Victorian understanding of the Middle East and confirmed Bedford’s reputation as one of the leading photographers of the nineteenth century.

The Prince of Wales acquired two complete sets from Bedford. The original photographs are displayed in this exhibition, brought together here for the first time since 1862.