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40 years of active presence

Thursday, December 7, 2023


    At the end of the 19th century, photographic studios began operating in Ioannina to meet the demand from well-off families for sittings. A number of photographers who set up shop in the city would become renowned for their work, such as Giorgos Pantazidis (1864-1941) and Yiannis Manakis (1878-1954). Given this background, Nissim Levis was attracted to the magic of the stereoscopic lens while studying in France, a fascination that he would retain up to his final years.

    Stereoscopic images were made using a special, two-lens camera. The product was two almost identical photographs, which, when placed side-by-side in the appropriate viewing device (stereoscope), appeared as one, producing the illusion of depth. Stereoscopy began to spread internationally in the 1850s and over the next 20 years it became known in the Ottoman empire and in Greece (the first known image dates from 1859). As a term, “stereoscope” entered the Greek dictionary in 1871, when a theatrical work of that name was also staged.

    By the end of the 19th century, every European middle-class family had a hand stereoscope to view stereoscopic cards and a Taxiphote to view glass slides. Glass slides, even though they were more expensive, prevailed over the paper cards and later gelatin films because they were superior in terms of precision, detail and endurance.

    The import of stereoscopes to Greece gradually ceased by 1938. Some years before, Nissim Levis had stopped using his stereoscopic camera. Stereoscopy would be revived in 1940, with the famous View-Master, but the taking of stereoscopic photos by amateurs had passed into the realm of history.