In 1868, Swedish physician and anthropologist Gustaf von Düben organized the first of two expeditions to Swedish Lapland in order to study the Sami people. The material thus collected formed the basis of a long monograph titled “About Lapland and the Lapps” (1873). Gustaf von Düben’s wife Lotten documented the expeditions using a camera - still a relatively novel tool. Using cumbersome equipment carried by Sami porters, Lotten von Düben produced a number of wet plate collodion negatives. The prints made from these negatives were organized in albums like the one presented here.
Typical of the period in which they were produced, Lotten von Düben’s photographs portray the Sami as strangely exotic and inferior. The images have a scientific quality to them, equaling humans and objects, measuring, indexing and archiving them for research purposes. But in spite of this disparity, there is gravity in the meeting between the researcher and the object of study, the latter gazing back at the viewer.
Profile portrait of Per Olof Amundsson Länta from Sirkas Sami village.
A Sami man carrying a spear.
A Sami man carrying a stick.
Portrait of Amund Nilsson Länta, aged 70, from Sirkas Sami village.
Portrait of Elsa Nilsdotter Länta, aged 35, from Sirkas Sami village.
Portrait of Nils Paulus Larsson Länta, aged 26, from Sirkas Sami village.
Portrait of Inga Kajsa Finnberg, aged 14, from Tuorpon Sami village.
Portrait of Maria Persdotter Länta, aged 45, from Sirkas Sami village.
Portrait of Karin Nilsdotter Finnberg, aged 50, from Sirkas Sami village.