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Felix Teynard (1817-1892)
Felix Teynard (1817-1892)

Colossal Statues Seen from Three-Quarters View, the Temple of Ramese at Abu Simbel, c.1851-52

Felix Teynard (1817-1892)
Colossal Statues Seen from Three-Quarters View, the Temple of Ramese at Abu Simbel, c.1851-52
salted paper print from waxed paper negative
title in pencil (on the mount)
image/sheet: 12 x 9 3/4in. (30.5 x 24.8cm.)
mount: 20 1/2 x 15 1/2in. (52 x 39.4cm.)
With Robert Hershkowitz, London
Haws, Félix Teynard: Calotypes of Egypt – A Catalogue Raisonné, Hans P. Kraus Jr. Inc, New York, Robert Hershkowitz Ltd, London, Weston Gallery Inc., Carmel, 1992, p. 101, pl. 155.

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Darius Himes
Darius Himes

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Lot Essay

Late in the fall of 1851, civil engineer Félix Teynard set sail from his native France for Cairo. Napoleon’s forays into Egypt had triggered a wide curiosity in France regarding the culture of ancient Egypt. Teynard has acknowledged the stimulus that a generation of Napoleonic scholars provided for his own project–to travel up the Nile and make photographic records of the great archaeological sites that awaited him.

He was not the first photographer to make this journey–pioneer daguerreotypist Girault de Prangay had made his own remarkable survey a decade earlier, though it was never published, and Maxime du Camp had undertaken his photographic project in 1849-51, to be published by Blanquart-Evrard in 1852–but Teynard was to return with an aesthetically impressive and historically important portfolio. Little is known of Teynard’s biography and there is no recorded explanation of the time lapse between his making and publishing his photographs. The fact that they were not published until 1858, by which time du Camp had taken wide credit with his own images, meant that Teynard’s opus attracted less attention than it deserved, perhaps explaining its extreme rarity.

Teynard’s Egypte et Nubie Sites et Monuments les plus intéréssants pour l’Etude de l’Art et de l’Histoire was a triumph of scholarly observation that was also a stunning demonstration of technical and artistic mastery of the still-young medium of photography. Teynard made the most comprehensive survey to date of the Nile Valley, the land of the Pharaohs. His dramatic images were rendered as finely modulated salt prints of a distinctive pinkish hue. The present print, depicting the Colossal Statue of Abu Simbel with the small figure of the Queen between its legs, is a magnificent example.

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