The Syrian city of Aleppo has sadly received a lot of coverage recently due to the widespread destruction from years of civil war. In spite of this, the city is still one of the great architectural treasures of the Middle East, which has drawn travelers and scholars for centuries.
When museum founder Charles Lang Freer visited Aleppo in 1908, he was delighted, writing on June 19 to his business partner Frank Hecker, “Aleppo is a charming surprise – a beautiful ancient city, and in every way more attractive than I had fancied.” Among the hundreds of photographs he collected of Asia and the Middle East are twelve lovely views in and around Aleppo.
Likewise, the German scholar Ernst Herzfeld traveled many times to Aleppo during his decades of research and exploration in the Middle East. The extraordinary number of drawings, photographs, and research notes in the Herzfeld collection is an important repository for the study of the city’s architectural heritage, so imperiled by recent conflicts.
In support of the people of Aleppo, this month we have combined selections from these two collections into a slide show, currently on display in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.