Downtown Cairo, in the middle of traffic noise and dust, there is a nice little romantic bookshop, even if you enter it by accident you will feel caught up in its special atmosphere immediately. Books in English, Arabic, German, Italian, French, lots of cards, maps and, in a special room, a big number of beautiful historical black and white photos, probably some of the most fascinating black and white photos you have ever seen in your life. The name of the bookshop is Lehnert & Landrock. The gifted artist and photographer who created these marvelous photographs is the first of both: Rudolf Franz Lehnert, born 1878 in Saxony, Germany. In 1903 he travelled to Tunisia and was instantly attracted by the irresistible charm of North Africa.
Beginning with his initial visit, Lehnert tried to capture some of his feelings during this and the following trips through Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, and again and again through Tunisia. In 1920 he meets in Leipzig, Germany with Ernst Heinrich Landrock and together establish the Orient Art Publishing House. In 1924 they move to Cairo, together with their families, wives and children, to open in Egypt’s capital the today still famous wholesale trade company and bookshop, Lehnert & Landrock. But Lehnert never grows accustomed to the big city. In 1930, he leaves all the copyrights of his art work to Landrock and returns to Tunisia, where he dies in 1948.
Some years ago, in 1995, a young man entered the bookshop downtown Cairo. He is Chris Langvet, Canadian photographer and very keen to contribute to the restoration of Lehnert’s large old negative plates. The result, hidden for decades, is impressive. Pristine desert, fertile oases, old views of the Pyramids, Cairo street scenes and especially Lehnert’s pictures of native, traditional Tunisian woman – all of the photos seem to be unbelievably modern and have that special aura which usually is characteristic only for precious etchings and other graphics. Galleries organized exhibitions, European publishing houses printed luxurious art books with his work, and finally Lehnert has his place in the history of photography.
And the best: The bookshop in downtown Cairo sells original prints of the photos, high quality, plenty of pictures, all sizes, starting from 10 LE to more than 100 LE, a lot of them framed tastefully in black wood, preserved behind glass. For the framed pieces you have to pay at least 45 LE, but still, a bargain for a piece of North African history. You can’t get a better gift for yourself or others which love historical pictures, the fascinating representation of the Arabic world a century ago or who simply love art!
Bookshop Lehnert & Landrock
44, Sherif St.
Cairo / EGYPT
Telephone: 3927606 or 3935324
Working hours: Monday–Friday 10:00 am–2:00 pm, 4:00pm–9:00pm, Saturday only 10:00 am–2:00 pm, Sunday closed