Sunday, January 25, 2009

Denon in Egypt



In her new book: Mirage: Napoleon’s Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt (2007), Nina Burleigh describes the challenges faced by the artist Dominique Vivant Denon (1747-1825), assigned by Napoleon to be the first to draw the wonders of Egypt.

Denon “…tripped on fresh corpses and mummies and slipped in centuries of bat guano, in rooms so dark they couldn’t see their own hands. Working by torchlight was dangerous in itself, since the long-enclosed areas were highly flammable, packed with wood, ancient paint, and mummy tar. They most feared not ancient spirits but stumbling into unseen holes, and the ever-present fluttering chauve-souris (bats), which swooped around their heads by the hundreds.”

4 comments:

DavidStill said...

Ah, the good old times, when science and art was still not completely separated...

Mr. Kinder said...

That's nothing. I know an artist who had to deal with monkeys climbing on his shoulder!

Erik Bongers said...

Clearly a style of drawing that resembles that of Ingres.
And although this isn't a bad drawing, it does show why Ingres was in a league of his own.

enb said...

I think some of his work was in the Napoleon in Egypt show at the now closed Dahesh Museum. A remarkable story about the "savants" Napoleon brought along with him into Egypt.
Many thanks for reminding me of this amazing tale.
cheers IanB