@Dumbarton Oaks

Collection PH.BZ.010 - Nicholas V. Artamonoff Photographs of Istanbul and Turkey, 1935-1945

Exterior view Exterior view Exterior view Exterior view South facade Exterior view Column of the Goths Column of Arcadius Column of Marcian Arch of Theodosius Arch of Theodosius St. John St. John View from Ayasoluk St. John, transept St. John, interior St. John, column St. John, capitals St. John Gymnasium of Vedius Gymnasium of Vedius Gymnasium of Vedius Gymnasium of Vedius Gymnasium of Vedius Gymnasium of Vedius Gymnasium of Vedius Theater Gymnasium Theater Marble Street Temple of Serapis Virgin Mary Church Virgin Mary Church St. John, narthex St. John, monogram Distant view East Gymnasium Pilaster Water Reservoir Column base Seven Sleepers Seven Sleepers Seven Sleepers Seven Sleepers Seven Sleepers Ayasoluk Ayasoluk View from Ayasoluk Votive niches Library of Celsus Library of Celsus Excursion members Road to harbor St. John, nave St. John, fountain St. John St. John, plinth Sanctuary Sanctuary Interior view West facade South facade South Church Exterior view North church View from minaret Roof North Church North Church Roof corridor North Church Interior view South Church North Church North Church South Church South Church South Church South Church Houses at Fener Parekklesion dome Parekklesion dome Parekklesion dome Ambulatory Main church Exterior view Exterior view Exterior view Main church Main church Main church Parekklesion Main church Parekklesion dome Narthex Parekklesion Parekklesion Parekklesion Exterior view Exterior view Exterior view
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Nicholas V. Artamonoff Photographs of Istanbul and Turkey, 1935-1945


  • 1935-1945 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

3 boxes of photographs (black and white 8 x 10 prints and contact prints)
4 boxes of negatives
2 boxes of slides
1 box of research materials (Addendum)

Context area

Name of creator

Artamonoff, N. V. (Nicholas Victor) (1908-1989)

Biographical history

Russian amateur photographer and engineer. He was born in Athens, Greece, the son of Victor Alekseïevitch Artamonoff, a Russian Major General. Artamonoff lived in Greece, Serbia, Russia, and England before enrolling at Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey at the age of 14. He lived in Istanbul from 1922 until the late 1940s, serving as an engineer at his alma mater after graduating with a degree in electrical engineering in 1930. In 1949, Artamonoff emigrated to the United States with his wife, Nathalie. The couple moved to Washington, D.C. in 1959 and Artamonoff began working as an engineer for the Public Housing Administration, later renamed the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Upon his retirement, the Artamonoffs moved to La Jolla, California, where Artamonoff passed away on October 10, 1989

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The collection was acquired by Dumbarton Oaks from Artamonoff on July 11, 1962, through the support of Robert Van Nice.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The collection includes 544 photographs taken in Istanbul and five archaeological sites in Western Turkey (Ephesus, Hierapolis, Laodicea on the Lycus, Pergamum, Priene) from 1935 to 1945. Additionally, 124 photographs of contact sheets found in the Robert Van Nice Fieldwork Records and Papers are believed to have been taken by Artamonoff. The contact sheets document some of the same locations as Artamonoff photographs, were taken during the same years that he was active in Istanbul, and display an artistic perspective that is similar to that of Artamonoff. The collection also includes an extensive Addedum consisting of materials relating to biographical research conducted by Günder Varinlioğlu, former ICFA Byzantine Assistant Curator, and Alyssa DesRochers, former ICFA intern, in 2011-2012.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The photographs and negatives are organized by accession number and negative number, respectively.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Researchers may access the digitized photographs online (see below). For more information or for access to the collection, please consult ICFA staff.

Conditions governing reproduction

Duplication of materials in the collection may be governed by copyright and other restrictions.

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Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Negatives are housed in ICFA's cold storage for preservation purposes and are not available for research.

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

The Smithsonian Institution's Freer and Sackler Archives holds 477 Artamonoff photographs of Istanbul and other cities in Turkey (Bursa, Izmir, Selçuk, and Yalova), as part of the Myron Bement Smith collection. Additional photographs and records may be found in the following repositories:

  • German Archaeological Institute (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut), Istanbul, Turkey
  • Robert College Archives, Robert College, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Robert College Records, 1858-1986, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University, New York, NY
  • The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), St. Louis, MO

Existence and location of copies

  • Digital copies of all negatives in the collection are available through the online exhibition, "Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection" - http://images.doaks.org/artamonoff/
  • Copies of Artamonoff's photographs may be found in the ICFA's Black and White Photograph Collection under Architecture.

Related units of description

At Dumbarton Oaks:

At other institutions:

Publication note

Published in:

Alyssa DesRochers and Günder Varinlioğlu. “Through the Lens: Nicholas V. Artamonoff and his 25 Years at Robert College,” Robert College Quarterly 41 (2011): 42-43.

Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives Staff. Blog posts related to Nicholas Artamonoff. ICFA: A blog from the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., 2011-. (http://icfadumbartonoaks.wordpress.com/category/nicholas-artamonoff/).

Matthew McClellan, "Snapshots of the past: Amateur photographer documented fading Byzantine ruins," Harvard Gazette (January 17, 2012). (http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/01/snapshots-of-the-past/).

Günder Varinlioğlu, ed. Artamonoff: Picturing Byzantine Istanbul, 1930-1947. (Istanbul: Koç University Press, 2013). Exhibition of the same name held June 26-November 10, 2013 at Koç University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations, Istanbul, Turkey, Günder Varinlioğlu, curator. (https://rcac.ku.edu.tr/en/content/artamonoff-picturing-byzantine-istanbul-1930-1947).

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Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)



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Archivist's note

In 1980 all of the original nitrate negatives were copied to safety film negatives by the Byzantine Photograph Collection for preservation, and subsequently housed in cold storage. The negatives were digitized in 2010 by ICFA interns Sharon Ke, Sara Wendell, Erica Abbey, and Luiza deCamargo. The collection was extensively researched by Günder Varinlioğlu, Byzantine Assistant Curator of ICFA, and Alyssa DesRochers, ICFA intern in 2011-2012 in preparation for an online exhibition featuring Artamonoff's work.

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Rights note(s)

Preferred Citation: Nicholas V. Artamonoff Photographs of Istanbul and Turkey, 1935-1945, PH.BZ.010, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.



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Under copyright

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