Zion Gate, Jerusalem

Accession Number

Zion Gate, Jerusalem

Felix Bonfils

Artist Nationality
French (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
​circa 1867-1885

Medium & Support
albumen print on paper

14 in x 10 15/16 in (35.56 cm x 27.78 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Margaret and Howard Bond

Subject matter
The centrally placed Zion Gate (also called the David Gate) forms a strong vertical axis that dominates the composition; it is one of the eight portals that pierce the sixteenth-century fortifications built during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I. The pointed arch above the rectangular passageway of the gate forms a tall and deeply recessed tympanum, while three ornamental roundels above and to either side decorate the mostly plain and monochromatic stone wall. Three figures stand rigidly beneath or just outside the threshold facing the viewer, possibly to offer a sense of scale. They are accompanied by three camels, which are turned slightly toward the lefthand side of the picture. The men and animals appear to be passing through the gate, though their static poses belie this imagined narrative. This image is one of hundreds of photographs made throughout Bonfils's career which purport to document various landscapes, cityscapes, and people of the eastern Mediterranean.

Physical Description
Three male figures and three camels stand in or near the threshold of a stone portal. The three men face the viewer while the camels are in three-quarter turns facing the left-hand edge of the photograph.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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Camelus dromedarius (species)
city gates
defensive wall components
travel photography
urban landscapes