Another watercolour by Balzac for the Description de l'Egypte showing the Pyramids at Memphis and the sun setting over the Sphinx, is in the Louvre (A. Sérullaz and V. de Chillaz, Souvenirs de voyages, exhib. cat., Paris, Louvre, 1992, p. 78). The present drawing shows the ruins of the funerary temple of the great Pharoah Rameses II. The colossal statue of the pharoah lies at the centre of the complex inscribed with his regnal titles which were misread and then corrupted by the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus in the 1st Century B.C. to read Ozymandias, the name taken up in Shelley's famous sonnet.
Balzac and fifty-five other scientists and artists were sent as part of Napoleon Bonaparte's expedition to invade Egypt in 1799. The draughtsmen were asked to systematically record the monuments of Egyptian antiquity. Bonaparte himself left Egypt on 22 August 1799, but his expeditionary force remained there till 1802. On their return to France the team began the process of having the drawings engraved. The first volume was issued only in 1809 while the last came out in 1827. Six drawings of Egyptian monuments by Antoine Cécile, who accompanied Balzac in the expedition, were sold at Christie's, Paris, 27 March 2003, lots 25-30.