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[Egyptian views brought home by John Muir] [graphic], [1904?]
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Album probably compiled by John Muir in 1904 of 102 large albumen photographs of Egypt, taken by J.P. Sébah and Antonio Beato, probably 1886-1900.

Scope and Content Note

As part of the world tour he made in 1903-1904, John Muir, naturalist and champion of preserving the wilderness, traveled to Egypt where he visited Cairo, saw the pyramids and Sphinx in Giza, and took a steamer up the Nile to visit the great antiquities sites, including Thebes, Luxor, Karnak, and Abu Simbel. He no doubt acquired the photographs while in Egypt, and assembled them in the album when he returned home in 1904. It would appear that eighty of the photographs are the work of Antonio Beato (both signed and unsigned), and depict the antiquities of Egypt, including the pyramids at Saggarah, Dendara, and Giza, the Sphinx, the Ramesseum or mortuary temple of Pharaoh Ramesses II, the great Abu Simbel temples in Nubia, in southern Egypt, the temples in Edfu, the temple of Isis in Philae, the village of Deir el-Medina, home of the artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, located across the Nile River from Luxor; and the antiquities in Thebes, Luxor, and Karnak. Beato seemed especially interested in recording close-up views of the statues and carvings and glyphs found on temples, tombs, walls, and columns at these sites. A lone human figure often appears in his architectural photographs, perhaps to remind the viewer that these monumental memorials were produced by the sweat and labor of common people, and to provide a sense of the monumental scale of these antiquities. Beato also took photographs of scenes of local life along the Nile, and groups of villagers with their donkeys and camels, engaged in their daily work, such as two farmers using a "shaduf" to draw water from the Nile for irrigation, a water seller, two women in black robes carrying large water jugs on their heads, a father and son with water buffalo, Hadji Ahmet Dragoman astride his camel, and a group of Bisharin ("Bichereens") in front of a cluster of date palms. There is also a view of a large felucca loaded with passengers sailing down the Nile. Several of the 21 photographs by SSupplementary encoding and revision by Sébah are portraits of the local people in native dress, such as a typical "fellah" or farmer in turban and tunic, and a peasant woman, "fellahine" in a black veil , wearing a beaded necklace, and holding her child. He also photographed statues of Isis and the pharaohs in their vitrines in the Giza museum, and the mummified heads of Rameses II and Seti I. In his photos of the Sphinx and the pyramids, tourists stand atop the great head, and throngs of visitors scramble to climb the sides of the pyramids to the top. Muir's album includes two unmounted photographs laid in, each in a mylar sleeve: one is an albumen print by Beato, probably from the same period,1886-1900, of the Colossi of Memnon, two huge statues which stand across the Nile from Luxor; the other is a platinotype (29 x 21 cm) of a baobab tree (girth 87 feet) near Victoria Falls, Rhodesia, Africa by L. Pedrotti who had a studio in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), probably from around 1900; verso contains Pedrotti's green copyright stamp--"Guaranteed Platinotype"--and pencilled note "Ex libris John Muir."
Late 19th- and early 20th-century Turkish photographer who satisfied popular demand by travelers and tourists for iconic images of the "Orient" with his sumptuous photographs of antiquities and local people of Turkey and Egypt. Jean Pascal Sébah was trained in photography as a young boy of sixteen by his brother Cosimi, following the death of their Syrian-born father, Pascal Sébah in 1886. Jean took over the studio in 1888, and entered into partnership with a Frenchman, Polycarpe Joaillier; the studio became known as Sébah & Joaillier. Based in Constantinople, they were the official photographers of the Sultan. According to the Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, edited by John Hannavy, Sébah and Joaillier came to be the chief "suppliers of evocative imagery to the increasing number of people who undertook the Victorian Grand Tour" (see v. I, p. 1730-1734). Sébah & Joaillier continued in business until 1910 when Joaillier returned to France. Antonio Beato was a British/Italian photographer, famous for his architectural photographs of Egypt. Often known by the French form of his name, Antoine Beato, he worked with his brother, Felice, also a photographer, in Malta, Greece, India and the Holy Land. In 1860 he moved to Cairo, where he lived for two years before finally settling in Luxor. There he established a studio, and spent the remaining years of his life photographing the antiquities, architecture, landscapes, and people of Egypt. His photographs are an extremely valuable record of monuments that have since been defaced or destroyed.
Spec. Coll. copy: one folded mimeographed sheet, laid in, containing one issue of the weekly newsletter for employees of the Fluor Corporation, dated Feb. 3, 1955 in Saudia Arabia. Fluor is an engineering and construction company, formerly based in Irvine, California (now in Irving, Texas), which, in 1955, was contracted by the U.S. Air Force to build Saudia Arabia's Dhahran Air Base. In modern beige cloth clamshell box with title "Sebah and Beato. Egypt."