Auction 86 - Part I - Rare & Important Items

Pictures of Palestine by Leo Kann – A Complete, Rare Series of 24 Large Photogravures – Vienna, 1912

Opening: $2,000
Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Sold for: $5,250
Including buyer's premium

24 large photogravures after photographs by Leo Kann, depicting views and sites in Palestine as well as the daily life of its Jewish inhabitants. Vienna: Jüdische Zeitung, [1912].
A complete, rare series of large photogravures after photographs taken by Leo Kann during his trip to Palestine in 1912. Including photos of Jaffa, Jerusalem, Rosh Pina, Kinneret, Zichron Yaakov, Petach Tikvah and Rechovot; photos of notable sites in Palestine, such as the lake of Galilee, Herzl's cypress nearby Motza, the Kidron Valley and Temple Mount; and photos of Jewish men, women and children. Of special note is a photo of Yemenite silversmiths at work in the Bezalel workshop. Kann paid special attention to the Yemenite community, possibly at the request of the JNF and the Jüdische Zeitung, both of which sponsored his trip.

Leo Kann (1885-?), Austrian-Jewish advocate and photographer, visited Palestine only once, in 1912. As a student, he wished to travel the land and witness the achievements of the Zionist project, which drew much attention at the time. His friend, journalist Robert Stricker (1879-1944), suggested that he publish an article about his journey in the Jüdische Zeitung, which Stricker edited, and hold a lecture upon his return to Vienna. During his months-long journey, Kann recorded his impressions and took 400 photographs; after returning to Vienna, he held a lecture which he illustrated with slides. Shortly after his return, 180 of his photographs were published in three albums, titled "Palästina im Bild" (Palestine in Pictures). Kann also published a postcard series, and the present, rare series of 24 large photogravures featuring selected photographs. The series was offered at an affordable price in order to allow every Jewish household to own and display photographs of the Holy Land.
Kann was the first to create a comprehensive photographic documentation of early 20th century Palestine, shortly before WWI which radically changed its character and demography. His realistic portrayals of Arab and Jewish life and the local landscapes widely served the effort of the emerging Zionist movement in Europe in gaining the people's support. The photographs emphasize the Yishuv's human fragility and the magic of "primeval" Holy Land views, in line with the European Zionist gaze on Palestine. Despite the importance of his work and its mark on Zionist history, Kann's name was mostly forgotten. He is believed to have immigrated to London in 1939, on the eve of WWII, where he disappeared from the public eye.

24 photogravure plates (22 black monotone, 2 blue monotone), 58X47 cm (photograph size: 39.5X29.5 cm). Good condition. Minor blemishes and repaired tears to edges of several plates (not affecting prints). Foxing to several plates, mostly to margins, with generally clean prints. Elegant folder, stained, with bookplate to inner side.

• Guy Raz, Photographers of Palestine. Tel Aviv: Map and Hakkibutz Hameuchad, 2003. P. 48.
• Elli Schiller and Menahem Levin, Tzilume Eretz Israel Ha-Rishonim. Vol 66-67. Jerusalem: Ariel, 1989. P. 165.
• Vivienne Silver-Brody, Documentors of the Dream: Pioneer Jewish Photographers in the Land of Israel, 1890-1933. Magnes Press, Jerusalem, 1998. Pp. 165-175.

Eretz Israel
Eretz Israel