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Musée de Boulaq

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Album du musée du Boulaq comprenant quarante planches photographiées par MM. Delié et Béchard, avec un texte explicatif rédigé par Auguste Mariette-Bey. 1872

Folio. 40 original photographs on albumenized paper (approx. 245 x 180 mm) on stiff cardboard mounted on hinges, and 42 unnum. leaves of explanations. Publisher's half brown hard-grained morocco, blind stamped calico boards, with gilt title and figures, raised bands. Edges gilt. Beautiful photographic album made in Cairo, the first illustrated catalogue of the first Egyptian Museum. While copies dated 1871 exist, both copies preserved in the French National Library bear the date 1872. The photographs by Hippolyte Délié and Émile Béchard show the halls and antiques of the Bulaq Museum, founded in Cairo in 1863 by the great Egyptologist Auguste Mariette (1821-81). The Museum was created by Auguste Mariette, who in 1858, following his appointment as head of the Antiquities Service, moved the banks of the Nile, in Bulaq, where he assigned four rooms in his residence for exhibitions. Mariette obtained permission to settle in Bulaq in the abandoned offices of the River Company. On these dilapidated premises, where he lived with his family, the "Director of the Historical Monuments of Egypt and the Cairo Museum" converted the first four exhibition halls with the assistance of his faithful assistants Bonnefoy and Floris. The period photographs, published in this 'Album du musée de Boulaq', show the low buildings by the river, almost completely devastated during the flood of 1878. In the preface dated November 1, 1871, Mariette explains the origins of this monumental album: "Mr. Hippolyte Délié and Mr. Béchard requested permission from the Directorate of the Bulaq Museum to reproduce by photography some of the monuments on display in our galleries. Not only the application [.] was explicitly welcomed, but the Director of the Museum feels he must promote the work of the great photographers from Cairo, opening up for them the cabinets of the Museum and choosing among the objects it contains those that appeared to him most worthy of inclusion in the proposed Album. Mr. Délié and Mr. Béchard have followed, for the classification and arrangement of their proofs, the order adopted in the Notice sommaire, which is for sale at the entrance of the Museum. The three plates showing the interior and exterior of the Museum serve as an introduction to the Album. The monuments are then classified into religious, funerary, civilians, historical, Greek and Roman sections. The photographic Album [.] is thus an illustrated catalogue of the Museum. The remarkable execution of the plates allows us also to recommend to everyone this album by Mr. Délié and Mr. Béchard. Travelers will indeed use it as a souvenir of their visit to the Bulaq Museum. Scholars will find the hieroglyphic texts reproduced with such clarity as if they were in direct presence of the monuments. Finally artists will not study from any other work on Egyptology as well as from the beautiful proofs delivered from the apparatus used by Mr. Délié and Mr. Béchard, the difficult problems that relate to the history of art in Egypt". The French photographer Émile Béchard was active during the years 1869-90: "Béchard arrived in Egypt probably together with his partner Délié. He collaborated with him in the production of the Album du Musée Boulaq and in the carte de visite photographs of native types and costumes. There is little information on the life of Béchard. It is known that he was awarded a first class gold medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1878 in Paris, and his images appear in many of the travel and topographic albums until almost the end of the century. His major achievement was no doubt his monumental album of photographs of the most important archaeological sites and antiquities of Egypt […]. It is worthy to note that Béchard did have a great deal of talent in picturing architecture. The neatness of the execution and printing of the final image adds tremendously to the monumentality he was able to reflect in them" (cf. Perez, p. 123).

Total: 12000.00 €