Flaubert and du Camp, early photographers of Egypt


André J. Fabre                     Octobre 2012                       jfabrefl@club-Internet.fr

theme of the trip to Egypt has always inspired writers, painters and, since the XIX century photographers. The trip made by Flaubert in Egypt and the camp from 1849 to 1852 is a good example: a single set of photographs of Egypt from this period has been bequeathed.

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880), one of the greatest French writers had, according to legend, received from his doctors, with the approval of his mother's advice to stay long in Egypt to cure her "nervous" . In fact, he was commissioned by the Department of Commerce to prepare a report on trade between France and Egypt

Maxime Du Camp (1822 -1894) as well as his great friend Flaubert, was the son of a surgeon. Her fortune had been allowed to travel around Europe and the Orient, but for this trip, he had been asked by the Ministry of Education to conduct a photographic survey as accurate as possible of the major archaeological monuments of Ancient Egypt.

Technical resources were sophisticated for its time, based on the principle of the calotype, cardboard covered with silver iodide reagent light exposure after two minutes of exposure was obtained a negative to reproduce the image by simple contact. In total, a set of 168 photographs were received.

The route was: Alexandria, Cairo, Thebes (Luxor), Nubia and Upper Egypt, Dendera and then return to Cairo in July 1850

Photographic records of Maxime Du Camp illustrate the story by Flaubert in his letters to his mother and two friends formed the modern sense of the term, a news crew.

Several comments are necessary:

                    Historically, the Voyage is a leading, if not the first photographic records made in Egypt

                    Only the monuments and bas-reliefs have been taken by the objective, logical agreement with the mission entrusted to Du Camp.

                    The human characters are depicted as giving a scale: it should be stressed that the process required a period of calotype laying ... two minutes!

                      It is interesting to situate the work by Du Camp in the history of photography in Egypt.

                      Among the pioneers in this field: Antonio Beato (1825-1903) who owned a photographic studio in Old Cairo Street Mouski before settling in 1854 in Luxor, a favorite place for tourists,

                                  Wilhelm Hammerschmidt (1830-1890?) Photographer in Cairo in 1862 had published two albums of photographs, Monuments of Ancient Egypt and from Egypt and Souvenirs

                                    Galli Maunier French photographer located in the temple of Luxor from the year 1852 and would have met Flaubert and Du Camp during their stay.


The calotypes brought from Egypt through the Camp and Flaubert clearly shown that photography is a magic lantern can we restore a lost world that we keep the nostalgia unconscious.




Date de dernière mise à jour : 29/07/2013

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