PHOTOGRAPHERS OF BUCHAREST: ALFONS EBNER

The exhibition project titled Photographers of Bucharest, started in 2015, with the city’s first photographers from the period between 1850 and 1900 continues this year with one of the most well-know photographers of the inter-war time. The exhibition dedicated to Alfons Ebner will be open to the public at the Bucharest Municipality Museum’s headquarters – Suțu Palace, starting with Thursday November 29th 2016.

“Oftentimes, looking through inter-war illustrated magazines in the search of rare or unknown photographs of Bucharest’s streets and boulevards, I came across a name that, throughout the years, became familiar: Alfons Ebner. Taking an interest in him, I found that there was no biography on him. The attempt to create something even close to a biography was confronted with the lack of information on him, despite Ebner being very active, as active as other photographers who had even their meals recorded.

Did he leave behind this wealth of photographs without attracting anyone’s attention? Well, yes. Piecing together the data collected from the press, I can assume he came to Bucharest around WWI, possibly even since 1914. The fact that the back of some photographs bears the name written as Alfons Gh. Ebner determines me to believe he had been the son of another photographer, Gheorghe Ebner, who must have been either a Saxon of Transylvania or a Schwabe, from whom we still have photos of the area of Calea Moșilor, from Bazaca to Armenească. An ad in the 1925-1926 Yearbook mentions his name alongside another prodigious but unknown photographer – the Aromanian Nicolae Tzatzu, patron of the Foto-Tehnica firm, situated on Splaiul Kogălniceanu (Independenței).

In the 1929 I came across them separate, Tzatzu (more often named Țațu) at the head of his firm for reproductions of artistic objects, Alfons Ebner, patron of the Studio Regal at No.5 (8) Apolodor Str., in his own house. He might have split up from Tzatzu because of the latter’s exclusive focus on photographic reproductions, an elegant craft yet dependant on the commissions of artists and art dealers. Urmuz was his neighbor, living a few houses away. I do not believe his decision was absurd. He managed not only to live off of the profits made by the photo studio but also roam the city, capturing on film everything he deemed worthy of keeping, a liberty Nicolae Ionescu afforded only because his wages were well above those of public official or private employees. It is easily deduced that his financial situation was not bad, that perhaps he had one or two employees who worked the studio in his absence.

In any case, part of his photographs were featured in gazettes, proof that they were appreciated by both editors and readers. He immortalized, if I remember well, the 1935 inauguration of the Bucharest Month Exhibition in Carol Park I and Carol Park II, today known as Herăstrău. I believe his photographs […] can be placed along those made by Nicolae Ionescu and Iosif Berman.” Emanuel Bădescu

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