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A fundamental book on Egypt:the first illustrated catalogue of the first Egyptian Museum

MARIETTE-BEY (Auguste).

Album du musée du Boulaq comprenant quarante planches photographiées par MM. Delié et Béchard, avec un texte explicatif rédigé par Auguste Mariette-Bey.
Cairo, Mourès & Cie, 1872. Folio. 3 unnum. leaves, 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.

€ 35,000

Beautiful photographic album made in Cairo, the first illustrated catalogue of the first Egyptian Museum. 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 to 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. 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".
Cf. Nissan N. Perez, Focus East, 1988. On Mariette cf. also J.-M. Carré, "Voyageurs et écrivains français en Égypte", p. 223-249.

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Islamic culture  >  History | Islamic Art & Culture
Middle east & islamic world  >  Africa