The Egypt of Gustave Flaubert

2 December 2009 until 4 April 2010

Aboe SimbelAboe Simbel

» Follow the adventurous journey from 1849-1850 of the French writer Gustave Flaubert and his good friend and photographer Maxime Du Camp « 

On a journey from Alexandria to Abu Simbel

Author Gustave Flaubert travelled extensively through Egypt in 1849 and 1850. He took his friend and photographer Maxime Du Camp with him to document the monuments and excavations they would visit. They started in the north in Alexandria and wended their way via the pyramids of Gizeh to the deep south, near the awe-inspiring pharaoh sculptures of Abu Simbel. The amazing pyramids and huge sculptures deeply impressed the pair of young, nineteenth-century travellers.

Photos, journal fragments and Egyptian objects

Much of what Flaubert and Du Camp documented during their trip has been preserved. The exhibition ‘The Egypt of Gustave Flaubert' combines fragments from Flaubert's journals and letters with Du Camp's detached, professional photography. In addition, you can see Egyptian objects that refer to Flaubert's correspondence, Du Camp's photos and the excavations and monuments that they visited. A characteristic snapshot in time of Egypt, viewed through the eyes of a westerner from the middle of the nineteenth century.

Gustave Flaubert and Maxime Du Camp

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) was just a fledgling writer in 1849. "Madame Bovary" was not to be published until 1857. He wrote about his personal feelings and perceptions during the journey through Egypt in his journal and letters. A quote from that correspondence accompanies each photograph. Maxime Du Camp (1822-1894) took his photos in an era when the technology of photography had not existed even a decade yet. The 35 photos in the exhibition are of famous monuments, sometimes partially concealed under the sand. They had not yet been restored or affected by modern tourism.

Over a hundred Egyptian objects

The hundred plus archaeological objects in the exhibition consist of portraits of pharaohs, tomb sculptures, crocodile mummies, papyri and sphinxes. They are mostly from the collection of the National Museum of Antiquities plus a number of special objects on loan from the Allard Pierson Museum (Amsterdam), the Kerstner Museum (Hannover), the Museo Egizio (Florence) and the Agfa Collection of the Museum Ludwig (Cologne).