Hippolyte Arnoux

French, active c. 1860–c. 1890

Fellah Woman

c. 1875–90
Albumen print
Acquired by the Clark, 2015

Hippolyte Arnoux was part of a cohort of expatriate photographers stationed in the Nile Valley in the 1860s through 1880s. Although some were involved in the official work of documenting the Suez Canal, many also produced commercial images aimed at foreign visitors to Egypt. Arnoux sold his photographs individually in a format approximating the modern-day postcard and, occasionally, as sets. His subjects encompass urban architecture and monuments, archaeological sites, street scenes, and studio portraits—like this one of a woman depicted in the garb of a fellah (the Arabic word for peasant, farmer, or villager). She poses holding a water jug against a painted backdrop of an Italianate garden scene, found in other studio portraits by Arnoux. These artificial surroundings seemingly conflict with the artist’s ethnographic interests in documenting Egyptian life.