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Grolier Club Exhibitions

Wilfred Thesiger's Photography

Portrait of Two Girls of the Yam Tribe

Wilfred Thesiger
Portrait of Two Girls of the Yam Tribe, July 4–8, 1947
Film negative, 35mm
Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University (2004.130.12694.1)

“I am glad I took so many portraits, for most of them can never be repeated. They fascinate me as I look at them, reminding me vividly of my many and varied companions and of many a chance encounter. They were taken under all sorts of conditions and in a variety of light, but it was photography very different from studio portraiture.” 

—Wilfred Thesiger, Visions of a Nomad, 1987

Salim bin Kabina in the Empty Quarter

Wilfred Thesiger
Salim bin Kabina in the Empty Quarter,
January 12–18, 1948
Film negative, 35mm
Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University (2004.130.17101.1)

“I craved for the past, resented the present, and dreaded the future.”

—Wilfred Thesiger, Arabian Sands, 1959

Salim bin Kabina with Camels

Wilfred Thesiger
Salim bin Kabina with Camels, March 1–5, 1948
Film negative, 35mm
Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University (2004.130.17499.1)

The man, a tribesman of the Bayt Imani lineage of Rashid Bedouin and a member of Wilfred Thesiger’s traveling party during his journey across the Empty Quarter from Al Dhafra sands to Liwa oasis, leads his two camels up a steep dune slope in Al Batin sands.

Launching a Dhow from an Abu Dhabi Island

Wilfred Thesiger
Launching a Dhow from an Abu Dhabi Island, March 14–April 1, 1948
Film negative, 35mm
Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University (2004.130.17632.1)

Men launch a small dhow from a beach. This photograph was taken during Wilfred Thesiger’s week-and-a-half-long sailing trip around the Abu Dhabi Islands with Sheikh Hazaa bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Najyan, and their retainers.

Salim bin Ghabaisha with Warad, a Saluki,

Wilfred Thesiger
Salim bin Ghabaisha with Warad, a Saluki, United Arab Emirates,
November 14–29, 1948
Film negative, 35mm
Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University (2004.130.22009.1)

Salim bin Ghabaisha, a tribesman of the Bayt Imani lineage of Rashid Bedouin, stands with the party’s saluki hunting dog, Warad, on a sand dune marked by small ridges of secondary dunes.

View of Al Kathiri Palace in Seiyun

Wilfred Thesiger
View of Al Kathiri Palace in Seiyun, December 3–17, 1947
Film negative, 35mm
Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University (2004.130.12977.1)

Thesiger’s Party in the Empty Quarter

Wilfred Thesiger
Thesiger’s Party in the Empty Quarter, January 12–18, 1948
Film negative, 35mm
Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University (2004.130.17182.1)

Salim bin Kabina in the Ramlat ar Rabbad Sands

Wilfred Thesiger
Salim bin Kabina in the Ramlat ar Rabbad Sands, February 3–12, 1950
Film negative, 35mm
Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University (2004.130.25481.1)

Page from Wilfred Thesiger’s album “Dubai, Bahrain, Oman,”

Page from Wilfred Thesiger’s album “Dubai, Bahrain, Oman,” 1948–49
Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University (2004.131.14.187–.191)