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

Louis de Clercq French
Lithographer H. Jannin French
Printer J. Blondeau et Antonin French

Not on view

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.

No image available

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.