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Overview

  Alex.as seen by artists & Travelers
  Photographic Memory
 

Alexandria

as seen by Artists and Travelers

Principal port of entry into Egypt, Alexandria’s fabled past attracted many European artists and explorers of the middle ages. Though they explored its antique ruins, many were none too impressed by the deteriorated state of the city.
Naïve and sometimes even fanciful images from the 15th and 17th centuries, such as Schedel’s Chronicle of Nuremberg, evolved to satisfy the curiosity of oirentalist travelers while gradually catering to the needs of the conquering powers. The 18th and 19th centuries witnessed the detailed accounts of Corneille Le Bruyn (1702) and Fredrik Ludvig Norden (1740), alongside the often-romanticized visions of Louis-François Cassas (1795) and Luigi Mayer (1801).


 
  As Alexandria slipped from the grasp of the Ottoman Empire and into the control of European colonial powers, commercial and political concerns vied, with scholarly fascination, with Egypt. The 19th century in particular witnessed a surge of interest, and accompanying advances in methods of depiction, from cartography to engravings to newspaper illustrations. Bonaparte’s expedition to Egypt (1798-1803) produced the famed Description de l’Egypte (1806-1828), a painstaking study of every aspect of the country. Mohamed Ali (1805-1849), the great modernizer of Egypt, commissioned several grand projects that initiated Alexandria’s renaissance, as can be seen in Pascal Coste’s plan for the Mahmoudieh Canal (1818) and the David Roberts’ print of the Egyptian fleet in the Port of Alexandria in 1846.

The Rosetta Gate
by Cassas, 1795
 

 
  During the second half of the 19th century, pioneers such as Mahmoud Bey El-Falaki were commissioned by Khedive Ismail to rediscover and map ancient Alexandria. El-Falaki’s book, Mémoire sur l’antique Alexandrie (1872), was accompanied by three maps-one of the ancient city, one of the modern city, and one of its environs – as part of his efforts to reveal the ancient city and document its modern state. The city’s golden age glows through images of littering social events and extensive panoramas, before its destruction during the bombardment and British occupation of 1882, and the preceding incidents. The events of that year were extensively recorded by a somewhat sensationalist European press, as can be seen in the sometimes lurid depictions on the pages of The Illustrated London News, The Graphic, Le Monde illustré, and L’Illustration.

New Harbour
“Description de l’Egypte” – 1808-1825”
 

 
  

Schedel’s Chronicle of Nuremberg, evolved to satisfy the curiosity of orientalist travelers while gradually catering to the needs of the conquering powers.


Alexandria in the Chronicle of Nuremberg
by Hartmann Schedel, 1493