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Voyage en Orient et en Espagne Vol. 5: Monuments & Sites pittoresques de l'Egypte

Louis de Clercq (French, 1837–1901)

H. Jannin (French)
J. Blondeau et Antonin
Albumen silver prints from paper negatives
21.6 x 28.4 cm (8 1/2 x 11 3/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.500.4 (1-41)
  • Description

    Parting with Rey's expedition in Jerusalem in December 1859, de Clercq, a young man who had independent means and influential family connections, continued on his own to photograph sites of historical and archaeological interest in Palestine and Egypt. This view shows the principal gate to the sanctuaries at Dendera, constructed during the Roman period under the reign of Domitian (a.d. 81-96). Here, more than in any of his other photographs, de Clercq used the intense desert light and the highly geometric character of Egyptian architecture to dramatic effect. Confronted with this startling interplay of positive and negative forms, the viewer may wonder whether the artist cut and pasted these flat forms like an abstract collage, or whether it is the legerdemain of ancient architects and the folly of time that have suspended these massive stones over a void seemingly more solid and substantial than the architecture itself.
    This plate appears in de Clercq's fifth volume of photographs, "Voyage en Orient. Monuments & sites pittoresques de l'Egypte." The set of volumes in the Gilman collection was presented by de Clercq to the Count de Tanlay, a career military officer who led a division of the Imperial Guard in important battles of the war against Austria and in support of Italian unification in 1859. One may speculate that de Clercq knew de Tanlay through his own service during the same period as a courier between Paris and the imperial court at the battlefront.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Volume inscribed: "A Monsieur le Comte de Tanlay // Hommage de l'auteur // Louis de Clercq"; each image titled and numbered with seal stamped on page below images

  • Provenance

    Count de Tanlay; [François Braunschweig]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, September 1, 1979

  • Notes

    Rolf Mayer/Cantz publications includes a catalogue raisonne of the de Clerq oeuvre. All the plates are reproductions of the 222 prints in the Gilman collection.

    This is also one of ten known sets (some incomplete). (See p. 83 of R. Mayer/Cantz publication)

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History