In the already mentioned Thompson’s book there is also a photograph by Roger Fenton.
Caption: ‘A Nubian model reclining’ by Roger Fenton, a photograph taken in the late 1850s, which, in common with the orientalist painters, seeks to capture the flavour of the Middle East. She is lying on a rug from Megri, western Turkey.
I found more of Fenton’s photos, all dated 1858
A "Seated Odalisque":
An "Egyptian Dancing Girl":
And two more, of which I don’t know the title:
What do you think? Without knowing more about Mr. Fenton career, do these scenes look genuine? Or are they a "studio production"?
O.K. Here is the answer. Some biography first.
Roger Fenton (British, 1819-1869) Although he was a lawyer by training, Fenton studied as a painter. He then was fascinated by photography and became a photographer. From 1841 to 1843 or 1844 he was in Paris and may have studied painting at the studio of Paul Delaroche (one reason frequently given for the likelihood that Fenton studied at the studio of Delaroche - who used also photography - is that three of France's foremost early photographers may have emerged from that studio).
Fenton is mostly known for his photos of the Crimea War in 1855.
The photographs you see above are part of a series of portraits made in his London studio in 1858 using models and friends with costumes and accessories recreating the scenery of the Near East.
It is interesting to confront Fenton’s pictures with this portrait of a young Tunisian musician by a French photograph, circa 1890 (courtesy of Louis Dubreuil).