Jules Gervais-Courtellemont

Portrait of Jules   Gervais-Courtellemont

Jules Gervais-Courtellemont (1863, Avon, France – 31 Oct. 1931, Paris) was a professional French explorer and photographer whose photographs of Indochina and Cambodia were widely published, often without his knowledge.

After spending his youth in Algeria, opening a photographic studio in Algiers in 1888, he converted to Islam and was one of the first Western men to openly visit and photograph Mecca in 1894, his first published book being Voyage d'Alger a Constantinople, Jérusalem, Damas.

With wife Hélène Lallemand -- the daughter of explorer Charles Lallemand and also a professional photographer herself --, he visited Indochina, then Yunnan, Tibet, and China in 1900-1903. Part of their work was exhibited in Hanoi in 1902, and Jules was granted the Gold Medal of the Société géographique de France. He was a lifelong friend of Pierre Loti's, with whom he shared a passion for the 'exotic'.

When First World War broke, Courtellemont decided to cover the military actions in France, in particular the involvement of 'Colonial troops' in the battles. He applied a technique of color photography developed since 1908 and known as "autochrome". His work is kept in various museums, including the Albert-Kahn Museum in Boulogne-Billancourt.

Listed works