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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Alary & Geiser

Other: Alary et Geyser 
Other: Geiser frères 
Other: James Geiser 
Other: Jean Geiser 
Other: Jean-Théophile Geiser 
Other: Julie Geiser 
Includes: Jean-Baptiste Antoine Alary 
Active:  Algeria
According to Ken Jacobson’s recently published Odalisques and Arabesques: Orientalist Photography 1839-1925 (Quaritch, 2007), Mme Julie Geiser, a widow who had lost her husband soon after their family emigrated from Switzerland to Algeria in 1850, started - or perhaps took over at the death of her husband - a photography business in the early to mid-1850s, going into partnership with Jean-Baptiste Antoine Alary in 1855, a framer turned photographer who had previously been associated with, and was possibly the student of, daguerreotypist Louis Delemotte. After Alary’s death, apparently in or about 1867, the firm appears to have been run by Mme Geiser’s three sons (Jean Théophile, James and Jean) and there are CDV backs that attest to this. Jean Théophile died in 1868 and James in 1872. Jean, the only remaining son, had his studio on rue Bab Azoun from 1874-1875 and the firm continued till to Jean Geiser's death in 1923, when A. Jouve bought the company for "une bouchée de pain".
Ken Jacobson’s in-depth exploration of the studio’s history concludes that "The firm of Alary & Geiser, Geiser Frères and Jean Geiser was probably the most successful Algerian studio in commercial as well as aesthetic terms, and in their longevity."
The revelation that there were possibly as many as five different Geiser family members who practiced photography, not to mention their partners and assistants, indicates the perils to the photographic historian of merely reading a name from a stamped or signed print and attributing the photograph to a single person. There is clearly more to learn about the Geiser firm concerning the authorship of photographs during different periods.
[With contributions by Paul Frecker and Michel Megnin]

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Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Jacobson, Ken 2007 Odalisques & Arabesques: Orientalist Photography 1839-1925 (London: Quaritch) p.201-204 [Includes a well researched biography on Alary & Geiser with example plate(s).] 
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