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Album of the Passion-Play at Ober-Ammergau:...

being sixty photographs of the scenes and tableaux of the passion-play, taken by command of his majesty King Ludwig II., of Bavaria, by the court-photographer Albert, of Munich; a series of etchings, in heliotype, from the pen and ink drawings of "the homes of Ammergau," by Aliza Freatorex, and engravings on wood; introductory chapters on the rise, development and decline of the religious drama, the journey to the passion-play, the village and people of Ober-Ammergau, the story of the play, a description of the Ammergau Theater, and a full account of the passion-play, with the text and songs of the chorus by John P. Jackson.

Availability: In stock

Published: Munich and London Joseph Albert, 1874

Stock Code: 126341

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


First edition of the first photographic testimony of the Oberammergau passion play. Every ten years since 1634 the villagers of Oberammergau have staged a dramatisation of the New Testament story, having pledged to do so in a bid to secure divine protection from the plague. By the later nineteenth century it had become a major tourist attraction, with visitors from across Europe making the journey to the Bavarian Alps to witness the play, which ran for several hours and involved many hundred actors, drawn entirely from the town. The present work, one of the earliest published photo series, captures the event of 1870 in all its size and spectacle, with 60 scenes from the play illustrated with Albertype photographs taken by the publisher Joseph Albert, personal photographer of Louis II of Bavaria.
Albert had invented the Albertype in 1868, a collotype process in which the bichromated gelatine adheres to a finely ground glass plate using a ground-coat of the same substance, hardened by exposure to light. With the method allowing the printer to produce over 200 copies a day, and 2,000 copies without deterioration of the gelatine, the discovery allowed collotypes to be produced commercially for the first time. In 1873 Albert began operating a high-speed press for collotype printing, with this being among the earliest books produced using the method. The work also includes an account of the passion play's history and development by John P. Jackson, and a translation of the text of the play and its lyrics.

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Folio. Original purple pebble-grain cloth, rebacked with brown pigskin, spine lettered and ruled in blind and gilt, blind panelling to covers, front cover lettered and ornately panelled in gilt, watered silk endpapers, gilt edges.


With 60 Albertype photographic plates and 24 engraved and etched illustrations.


Contemporary pencilled ownership signature of Colonel James M. Wilson, with a few pencilled marks in margins. Lightly refurbished, rear cover faintly discoloured. A very good, clean copy.


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