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Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Nineteenth-century European photographs of Egypt show us a country that has changed greatly in the last 150 years. Such well known photographers as Francis Frith, Felix Teynard, Maxime Du Camp, and other less famous visitors whose work is shown in this book recorded sites that have since disappeared and reveal the Nile before it was transformed by recent intervention. The palms of Philae, known as the jewel of the Nile, beckon to us from nineteenth-century photographs but today the island, strepped of its temples, lies beneath Lake Nassar.
These photographs are mirrors as well as windows, chronicling attitude as well as geography. Colonialism determined the photographer's and their customers' insistence that the Egyptians were quaintly costumed 'types' who plied outlandish trades, but the photograph, perceived as documenting objective reality, reinforced such assumptions of cultural superiority.
About the Author
Kathleen Stewart Howe is curator of prints and photgraphs at the University of New Mexico, and the author of Felix Teynard: Calotypes of Egypt.