Égypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie: dessins photographiques recueillis pendant les années 1849, 1850 et 1851, accompagnés d’un texte explicatif et précédés d’une introduction.
Folio (447 × 315 mm). 125 mounted original salt-prints, letterpress captions to mounting leaves and tissue-guards, 3 small engravings to the introductory text, double-page engraved plan of Karnak, single-page plans of Medinet-Habu and the island of Philae. Recent half brown cloth, marbled boards, original spine, brown hard-grained morocco laid down, title gilt direct, low flat bands with dotted roll gilt, double fillet panels to the compartments, new endpapers, original marbled free endpapers retained.
Extremely rare first edition complete, illustrated with 125 salt prints from wet paper negatives (Blanquart-Evrard process) mounted one to a page. Maxime Du Camp’s monumental survey, "Égypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie", was the first of its kind, the first travel album to be completely illustrated with photographs of archaeological monuments.
A young man of independent means, Du Camp learnt the craft of photography from Le Gray in 1849 in preparation for his second journey to North Africa. By the time he came to Abu Simbel in March 1850 to explore the rock-cut temples built by Ramesses II (reigned 1292-1225 BC), Du Camp was thoroughly at ease with the medium. With official backing from the French Government, and travelling in the company of the novelist Gustave Flaubert, Du Camp returned with over 200 paper negatives of the antiquities of Egypt and the Near East, of which 125 were published in the present work. The illustrations were produced at the photographic printing works of Louis-Désiré Blanquard-Évrard at Lille and their distinctive cool neutral tones are due to the prints being chemically developed rather than merely printed-out in sunlight.
Distinguished as it was, Du Camp’s photographic career was short-lived. After the completion of his magisterial survey of the antiquities of the Near East, he abandoned photography entirely in favour of literary pursuits.
Soundly bound, presenting well on the shelf, front hinge slightly cracked towards the head at the first blank, some foxing throughout, varying from light to moderately heavy but the prints themselves fairly lightly touched when at all, remains very good.
Parr/Badger, The Photobook, I, 73. QNL Inaugural Exhibition (2018), 153.