Lonely Planet Writer

Vintage Egyptian travel photographs taken by Maxime du Camp go up for auction

A series of rare travel photographs from the 1800s taken by Maxime du Camp depicting famous spots in Egypt have gone up for auction online.

The Sphinx and Pyramids at Giza taken in the 1800s by Maxine du Camp.
The Sphinx and Pyramids at Giza taken in the 1800s by Maxine du Camp. Image by Antiquarian Auctions

The photographs are believed to have been taken between 1849 and 1852 and feature Egypt, Nubia, Palestine and Syria.

The Temple of Isis at Philae taken in the 1800s.
The Temple of Isis at Philae taken in the 1800s. Image by Antiquarian Auctions

The majority of the prints are mounted and have the original numbered, tilted tissue guards with French captions. They were featured in the famous French publication Égypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie and offer a unique look at the birth of travel photography and documentation.

The Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu.
The Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu. Image by Antiquarian Auctions

In 1849 du Camp made an archaeological expedition to the Middle East to document the areas and was accompanied by Gustave Flaubert, the author of Madame Bovary. Throughout the tour, Du Camp used the calotype process as modified by Blanquart-Evrard, and after his return in 1851 he published a selection of 125 photographs with short descriptions.

Abu Simbel statue of Ramesses II.
Abu Simbel statue of Ramesses II.

Landmarks featured in the fascinating prints include The Sphinx of Giza, the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu and the Temple of Isis at Philae.

Wall at the Dendera Temple Complex in Egypt.
Wall at the Dendera Temple Complex in Egypt. Image by Antiquarian Auctions

A narrative of the tour was published separately but without the illustrations in 1853. Most of the prints have preserved their original cold dark grey colour to this day, while a lot of the prints are dark and lacking in contrast due to the Sels d’or toning which weakened the strength of the prints.

The Mosque of Sultan Hassan in Cairo.
The Mosque of Sultan Hassan in Cairo. Image by Antiquarian Auctions

The prints are up for auction with AntiquarianAuctions.com with an estimate of £15,000 to £20,000. A reserve price of £10,000 is on the collection and the online auction will close on 1 September.