A stunning whole-plate daguerreotype of the southern gateway and Pylon of Ptolemy III.
Karnak, at Thebes, is one of the largest and most important of the Egyptian sites, constructed over a period of thirteen hundred years on the east bank of the Nile approximately 400 miles from Cairo. It was the capital of the Egyptian empire at the height of its power. There were ten pylons on the site, forming a series of processional gateways at right angles to the main axis. They linked this temple by an avenue of sphinxes with the temple at Luxor two miles away.
The image at first appears to be symmetrical, but the camera is just sufficiently off-centre for the deep shadow at the interior of the entrance to reveal the depth of the structure. The large vertical format displays the colossal form perfectly, while framing the pylon beyond in a series of repeating geometrical steps that progress far into the distance, hinting at the scale of the whole complex.
This is one of two whole-plate studies of this subject in the archive of Girault de Prangey. In the other he turned the plate 90 degrees to make a horizontal view including more of the temple complex in the background and the remains of one of the sphinxes from the avenue in the foreground.
Girault de Prangey also painted the Temple of Karnak at Thebes, see Quettier, P. et al., Girault de Prangey 1804-1892, p. 57 for an illustration.