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Béni Haçan, Architecture Hypogéenne, Tombeau d'Amoneï

Artist:
Félix Teynard (French, 1817–1892)
Date:
1851–52
Medium:
Salted paper print from paper negative
Dimensions:
Image: 24.4 x 30.6 cm (9 5/8 x 12 1/16 in.) Mount: 40.4 x 52.2 cm (15 7/8 x 20 9/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, William Talbott Hillman Foundation Gift, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.61
Not on view
By the time Teynard set out for Egypt with a large-format camera, he was thoroughly accomplished in the waxed-paper negative technique, which had been perfected only the year before in Paris by Gustave Le Gray. One of the drawbacks of using paper negatives was that the paper fibers softened the picture's resolution. The best practitioners of the technique, however, turned its faults to advantage and organized their pictures around masses of deep shadow and suffused light, recognizing that a few well-chosen details could give dramatic relief to architectonic structures. This photograph is a masterpiece of the genre. It represents a Middle Kingdom rock-cut tomb at Beni-Hasan (ca. 1900 b.c.), 105 miles upriver from Cairo.
Within the bold composition of light and dark, Teynard placed the delicate form of a European bentwood cane against the column. Like a surveyor's measure, the cane indicates scale. It also functions as Teynard's personal signature, but unlike the graffiti to the right, it was temporary and did not deface the monument.
Inscription: Letterpress on mount, recto TC: "ÉGYPTE"; BC: "BÉNI HAÇAN // ARCHITECTURE HYPOGÉENNE - TOMBEAU D'AMONEI // Pl.13"; Below image L to R :"Imp. Phot. de H. de Fonteny et Cie. f. à Paris en 1851. r. St. Nicolas d' Antin, 72. Félix Teynard. Publié par Goupil et Cie. éditeurs, Paris, Londres, Berlin, New-York."; Inscribed in pencil on mount, verso BL: "3/22/82 // 4/11/83 1/10/84"
[Lunn Gallery, Washington, D.C.]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, February 12, 1982

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