- Geoffrey Belknap
(b Saint-Hippolyte-du-Fort, March 8, 1831; d Alès, April 9, 1885).
French photographer and photographic printer. Bonfils is best known for his photographs of the Mediterranean and Middle East, particularly his five-volume Souvenirs d’Orient: Egypte. Palestine. Syrie. Grèce (1878). Prior to opening a studio briefly in Alès in 1865, he was apprenticed to Abel Niépce de St Victor (180570). Having travelled to Lebanon in 1860 with the French Army to intervene in the conflict between the Druse and the Maronites, Bonfils decided to return to Beirut in 1867 with his wife Marie-Lydie Cabanis and son Adrian to establish a photographic studio under the name La Maison Bonfils. From there Bonfils began his photographic tour of Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Greece, and sold his views back in his studio. These views included (he claimed) 15,000 albumen prints and 9000 stereoscopic cards. La Maison Bonfils became well known throughout Lebanon, the Middle East, and Europe as a première photographic studio and attracted many tourists seeking photographs of the surrounding area and peoples. Bonfils’s success was compounded when he presented his photographs to the Société Française de Photographie in ...