Cover image for The Napoleonic survey of Egypt : description de l'Égypte : the monuments and customs of Egypt : selected engravings and texts
The Napoleonic survey of Egypt : description de l'Égypte : the monuments and customs of Egypt : selected engravings and texts
Russell, Terence M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Aldershot ; Burlington : Ashgate, [2001]

Physical Description:
2 volumes (xvi, 603 pages), 227 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 30 cm
Format :


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DT60 .R93 2001 V.1-2 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Rare Books-Appointment Needed

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Napoleon Bonaparte celebrated his conquest of Egypt in 1798 by commissioning a survey of the country's treasures published as the Description de L'Egypte. An army of engravers collaborated with artist-illustrators over a thirty-year period to produce 900 folio engravings of huge proportions depicting the architecture, monuments and antiquities of ancient Egypt together with contemporary views of the country. Reproducing large sections of the original folio, this is the first book in English to provide an accessible and comprehensive account of the origins and creation of the Description de L'Egypte. Terence M. Russell draws upon numerous first-hand reports of the French exploration in order to re-evaluate the intellectual and artistic achievements of Napoleon's ambitious campaign. He shows how, different from anything else conceived at the time, the rich plethora of drawings and personal writings compiled by the intrepid French explorers opened European eyes to the diverse splendours of a long forgotten civilization, giving rise to the science of Egyptology.

Author Notes

Terence M. Russell, is a Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of The Encyclopaedic Dictionary in the Eighteenth Century: Architecture, Arts and Crafts (1997), co-author of Gardens and Landscapes in the Encyclopédie of Diderot and D'Alembert: The Letterpress Articles and Selected Engravings (1999), and author of Architecture in the Encyclopédie of Diderot and D'Alembert: The Letterpress Articles and Selected Engravings (1993).

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

A major scientific and intellectual achievement of the early 19th century was the publication in large folio format of the findings of the French scholars and artists who accompanied Napoleon Bonarparte's ill-fated invasion and occupation of Egypt (1798-99). The first edition of Description de l'Egypte was issued in 1809-22; a second edition appeared in 1821-28 in a smaller format. Both editions included text and plates in multiple volumes divided into three sections: "Antiquits," "Etat moderne," and "Histoire naturelle." Copies of these magnificent tomes can only be found in special antiquarian collections. A trilingual edition including all of the plates with captions but without any text was issued in a small paperback format by Benedikt Taschen in 1994, but it is now out of print. Russell, a fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and senior lecturer in architecture at the University of Edinburgh, has assembled a selection of 203 illustrations from plates in the first two sections: "Antiquities" and "Egypt in the Eighteenth Century." He offers translations of selected original text and additional writings by French scholars who participated in the great expedition, along with his own commentary and insights. The content is authoritative and scholarly, yet not beyond the general reader interested in Egypt. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Pierce, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

These splendid volumes make available selections of important text and illustrations from the monumental Description de L'Egypte (1809), a 37-volume record of the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt. In this edition, Russell (Univ. of Edinburgh) assesses the French military and naval confrontation with Egypt; describes the original authors, artists, scholars, scientists, and engravers involved in the construction and production of the original volumes; and provides translations and hundreds of illustrations (photographic reproductions of the original engravings) of some of the most important texts and drawings of many archaeological monuments (the Pyramids and Sphinx, Luxor, Thebes, Philae, Medinet Habu, the Valley of the Kings, and many more) and an ethnographic description of everyday life in 18th-century Egypt. The original publication, almost 200 years ago, gave birth to the discipline of Egyptology. This superb edition makes available to an English-speaking audience some of the jewels of the original work, and will continue to inform those interested in the wonders of ancient Egypt. General collections and graduate students and above. C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky Harvard University

Table of Contents

Volume one: The French Occupation of Egypt
Description de L'Egypte
Antiquities: Volume I
Antiquities: Volume II
Antiquities: Volume III
Volume two: Antiquities: Volume IV
Antiquities Volume V
Egypt in the Eighteenth Century: Volume I
Egypt in the Eighteenth Century: Volume II
References and Select Bibliography