Search for content, post, videos

Maison Bonfils, a photographic adventure between the Cévennes and the Middle East


If the Maison Bonfils is still little known to the inhabitants of the Cévennes, the starting point of its history, the photographs of the Maison are present in many national and international collections.

They constitute one of the most important productions devoted to the Middle East of the second half of the 19th century. The exhibition presented at the Musée du Colombier d’Alès therefore takes on its full meaning, to discover the history of this family who chose to leave their studios in Saint-Hippolyte-du-Fort and Alès to settle in Beirut in 1867, in order to capture and market “views of the whole East” intended for tourists. Within the images of the Orient, the views of the pyramids, the Parthenon or the alleys of Damascus stand out for their sense of framing and their humor, sometimes Félix Bonfils does not hesitate to appear in disguise or to fake his images.

In the Beirut studio, his wife Lydie herself photographs genre scenes and portraits, becoming one of the very first female photographers in the Orient.

At the end of the century, their son Adrien continued the company’s activity and opened it up to modernity, seeking to colorize the photographs.

The House permanently closes its doors 70 years after its creation.

The set of 120 photographs, negatives, albums, stereoscopic views gathered in the exhibition thanks to the support of the Alésien Jean-François Gallier (1954–2019) and the Multimedia library of architecture and heritage (MAP), allows to understand the diversity and richness of the Maison Bonfils activities.


Colombier Museum

rue Mayodon – 30100 Alès

04 66 86 30 40 – – MuséeColombier Alès


This exhibition is co-produced by the Museums of Alès Agglomeration and the MAP.

Paid exhibition, open from September 18 to January 3, 2021 every day except Tuesday, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (except November 1 and December 25, closed).


activities around the exhibition:

Saturday 19 and 20 September

European Heritage Days. “Surprise” shots and flying mediation.

Wednesday October 7 3 p.m. Guided tour

Thursday 8 October 6 p.m.

Conference on Traveling Photographers and Traveler Photographers in the 19th Century.

Young audience workshop Wednesday October 21 and 28: discovery of stenosis

Wednesday November 4 3 p.m. Guided tour

Saturday 14 November Night of museums

Thursday November 26 2:30 p.m. Readings “Voyages d’Orient” by Gérard de Nerval at the museum.

Wednesday December 2 3 p.m. Guided tour.

Around the exhibition

Félix Bonfils has a facebook page where the museum regularly tells about his adventures in the Eastern Mediterranean, his shots, the way he shoots his images, his aides-de-camp, his family… Come and discover her and follow him @felixbonfils

A catalog and a children’s games booklet have been specially designed.

Create an account or log in to read more and see all pictures.

Install WebApp on iPhone
Install WebApp on Android