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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Albert Augustus Isaacs

Other: A.A. Isaacs 
Other: Rev. Albert Augustus Isaacs 
Other: Reverend Albert Augustus Isaacs 
Dates:  1826, 24 January - 1903, 15 November
Born:  Jamaica, Berry Hill (A coffee plantation)
Died:  Germany, Düsseldorf
Active:  Middle East
In the 1850s he travelled to the Holy Land. His book A Pictorial Tour in the Holy Land (1863) included illustrations based on his photographs.

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Approved biography for Albert Augustus Isaacs
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Isaacs was born in Jamaica, educated at Cambridge, and died in Düsseldorf; the well-traveled reverend was known as “the Jew of Leicester” for his efforts in the conversion of Jews to Christianity. It is not known when he first took an interest in photography, but when Isaacs made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1856, the camera was to be his witness. As he explained in his 1857 travelogue, The Dead Sea: “We well know how often the pencil is proved to be treacherous and deceptive; while on the other hand the fac simile of the scene must be given by the aid of the photograph. This consideration induced me to determine that . . . I would visit these places, and not only judge for myself, but endeavour likewise to give the public the best means of arriving at a just conclusion.” Isaacs did most of his work with waxed-paper negatives, well suited to the hot climate and extended travels that he faced. At some point, the reverend himself underwent a sort of conversion. As Isaacs recalled late in life in a letter to John Ruskin: “I can speak of this authoritatively, having been the first person (1856) to take any photographs of importance in the Holy Land — and indeed the first who had taken any by the then new and beautiful collodion process.” 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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