Carol Szathmari (Hungarian: Szathmáry Pap Károly; Romanian: Carol Popp de Szathmary; 1812 – 1887) was an Austro-Hungarian-born painter, lithographer and photographer. He is considered the world's first combat photographer as he took pictures in the battlefield, during the first year of the Russian-Turkish War, later known as the Crimean War (1853-1856).
Szathmari decided to take his camera to the battlefield. Using a wagon specially equipped with a dark room for processing the glass plates with wet collodion, he went to Danube's banks and various other places to document the war. In April 1854 his van became a target for the Turkish artillery from Oltenița, who thought it belonged to a Russian spy. It was fortunate for the artist that the gunners were not accurate enough to hit him.
Besides landscapes, fortifications and battlefields, he photographed various troops, both Turkish and Russian, and their commanding officers.
At the International Museum of Photography and Film at George Eastman House, in Rochester, New York, there are three pictures by Szathmari from that period. They are: "The Russian lancer's encampment in Craiova", "The Bombardment of Silistra" and the portrait of Lieutenant General Soimonoff, commander of the 104th Russian Division, killed in the battle of Inkermann. All of them are bound on carboard, surrounded by a lithographed ornament and the French captions are written in black ink by the author's hand. Their dimension is 15,3x21,1 cm. and 25,2x18,3 cm. respectively.
He exhibited his photos, bound in an album, at the Exposition Universelle of 1855. Because Szathmari's were the first images of the war. prior to Roger Fenton's large collection of photographs taken almost a year later, his album was much praised and he was presented with many awards. He eventually offered his work to Queen Victoria, to Emperors Napoleon III and Franz Josef I and to other royalty of Europe.
He was the first certified photographer in Romania, being also one of the first 10 photographers in Europe. Carol Popp de Szathmary was the official photographer of the Romanian ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza and of the first king of Romania, Carol I of Romania. Most of his life he worked and lived in Bucharest, where he died.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Carol Popp de Szathmary.|
- Photographs from the Crimean War by Carol Szathmari I American and British Collections, Adrian Silvan IONESCU at the Wayback Machine (archived July 16, 2011)
- Bulgarian samples of work of Carol Szathmary