Abo-Sembil, Grand Spéos, Statues Colossales vues de Face (Parte Inférieure)
Félix Teynard (French, 1817–1892)
Salted paper print from paper negative
Image: 24.3 x 30.8 cm (9 9/16 x 12 1/8 in.) Mount: 37.9 x 50.1 cm (14 15/16 x 19 3/4 in.)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005
Not on view
A civil engineer based in Grenoble, Félix Teynard traveled to Egypt in 1851-52 with the express purpose of updating the standard architectural reference on Egypt, "Description de l'Egypte," a lavish publication of oversized engravings issued by Napoleon's team of savants between 1809 and 1829. Teynard's survey, 160 salted paper prints with accompanying text, was published from 1853 to 1858 as "Egypte et Nubie, sites et monuments les plus intéressantes pour l'étude de l'art et de l'histoire".... Fewer than a dozen complete sets have survived. Teynard photographed the sites from Cairo to Nubia with evident wonder at the engineering skills of the ancient architects and builders. He worked from multiple vantage points and had an uncommon grasp of the physicality of man-made constructions--their size and placement in space, their materials and decoration, and their state of conservation. His approach was graphically innovative, as is seen in one of his twelve views of Abu Simbel. This detail of the great temple shows the encroaching desert in the foreground and two of the four sixty-five-foot colossi--the largest in Egypt--cut into the sandstone cliffs. From a twentieth-century vantage point, the daring cropping of the head seems decidedly modern, a condition that Teynard acknowledged in the note accompanying the plate: "The vantage point was too low to allow inclusion of the head of the preserved colossus without distortion. For this reason, we preferred to take only the lower parts of the colossi, which can be completed by means of the next photograph, since they all depict the same person." Virtually all of Teynard's known photographs are affixed to mounts that credit his printmaker, H. de Fonteny, on the lower left margin. This photograph, however, is one of several rare examples stamped with Teynard's own name. It suggests that the photographer may himself have printed a set of negatives to complete the publication after de Fonteny's firm closed in 1854.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: Letterpress on mount, recto TC: "NUBIE"; BC: "ABOU-SEMBIL // GRAND SPÉOS __STATUES COLOSSALES VUES DE FACE__PARTIE INFÉRIEURE // Pl. 156."; Below image L:"Félix Teynard Phot." Below image R: "Publié par Goupil et Cie. éditeurs, Paris, Londres, Berlin, New-York."
Chateau de Prye; Marquis du Bourg de Bozas Chaix d'est-Ange; [Hans P. Kraus, Jr., New York]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, October 16, 1991
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 25, 1993–July 4, 1993.
Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," August 7, 1993–October 2, 1993.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," June 19, 1994–September 11, 1994.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Along the Nile: Early Photographs of Egypt," September 11, 2001–December 30, 2001.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Master Photographs from the Gilman Collection: A Landmark Acquisition," June 28, 2005–September 6, 2005.
Howe, Kathleen Stewart. Félix Teynard, Calotypes of Egypt: A Catalogue Raisonné. New York: Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs, 1992. no. 156, p. 199.
Hambourg, Maria Morris, Pierre Apraxine, Malcolm Daniel, Virginia Heckert, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. no. 69.