Voyage dans la Basse et la Haute Égypte, pendant les campagnes du général Bonaparte.
Paris, Didot l'aîné, 1802
Denon (1747-1825), was a diplomat and artist who had moved his way up in Parisian society, befriended King Louis XV, survived the Revolution, and attracted the attention of Napoleon. He joined the Egyptian expedition at Napoleon's invitation, even though he was not included in the Commission of Sciences and Arts. When, in December 1798, Napoleon decided to send General Belliard to join up with General Desaix in pursuit of of the Mameluke leader Murad Bey into Upper Egypt, Denon was the one artist who was allowed to go along. He made good use of his time, sketching furiously when the troops paused for brief moments.
Denon was the first artist to discover and draw the temples and ruins at Thebes, Esna, Edfu, and Philae. Until that time, most of the known Egyptian antiquities were pyramids and scattered pieces of sculptures and stelae. It was when the brigade reached Dendera, just across from Qena, that Denon realized what might be in store. He came through the gate and got a view of the portico, and was enthralled.
"I felt that I was in the sanctuary of the arts and sciences…Never did the labour of man show me the human race in such a splendid point of view. In the ruins of Tentyra [the Roman word for Dendera] the Egyptians appeared to me giants."
On his return to Paris he decided to publish his journal and drawings because the fate of the Commission was uncertain. Thus Denon was the first to reveal the richness of Egyptian art to Europe.
Two volumes, large folio (66.5 x 48.5 cm approx.), vi, 265, liii pp., plate volume complete with 143 engraved plates and maps, many double-page, generally showing 2 or more images, numbered to 141 (2 bis plates 20bis & 54bis, plates 4 & 5 on 1 page), original tissue guards; very occasional light toning to paper as often. Contemporary red straight-grained morocco gilt, covers with gilt border, spines in eight compartments, green morocco lettering-piece to second, others with gilt corners and centre-pieces of bird and head tools; spines lightly faded.
Hilmy 172; Cf. Blackmer 471 (later edition).
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