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Voyage Dans La Basse Et La Haute Égypte, Pendant Les Campagnes Du Générale Bonaparte. Par Vivant Denon.

Baron Dominique-Vivant Denon author draughtsman engraver

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Baron Dominique-Vivant Denon, author, draughtsman, engraver

Variant Title

Planches Du Voyage Dans La Basse Et La Haute Égypte


A Paris,: De L'Imprimerie De P. Didot L'Aîné, Au Palais Des Sciences Et Arts., An. X. M.DCCII.

Physical Description

2 vols.; 665 mm. (Broadsheet.)

General Note

Vol. I: [6], 265, [1], liii, [1] p. - Vol. II: [2] p., 141 [i.e. 178] pl. (9 dble.). There are bis pl. 9, 20, 24, 35, 36, 54, 74, 79, 81, 83, 97, 101, 110, 112, 136, ter pl. 78, 80, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 111, quinter pl. 93 The dble. pl. are nos. 12, 88, 131, 132, 134, 136, 136 bis, 137, 138.


Vol.1. [Half-title, t.p., dedic.] - Preface - [Text] - Explication Des Planches ... - Index Des Planches Et Du Journal; Errata Du Journal - Noms Des Souscripteurs. - Vol. II: [T.p.] - [Plates].

Responsibility Note

A few plates are signed as drawn by Rigo, but most are signed as drawn by Denon. One group of plates is also signed as engraved by him (pl. 104-111), but most are signed by other engravers - Réville, LeGouaz, L. Croutelle, Perrier, Berthault, Dufrène, Pillement, Pillement fils, Fortier, J. Duplessi Bertaux, G. Malbeste, Legrand, Duparc, Fosséyeux, Baltard, L. Petit, Petit A, Coiny, Prevost, Paris, L. Garreau, Masquelier, Galien, Choffard, Gounot, Gounod, Dufrene, Berton.

Most plates carry the imprint of the printer - Dien or Villain.

The work is dedicated by Vivant Denon to Bonaparte (afterwards emperor Napoléon I).


RIBA, Early printed books, I (1994), 841.

Dominique-Vivant Denon L'oeil de Napoléon [exhibition catalogue] (Paris, 1999); A. Siliotti, Egypt lost and found (1998); F. Beaucour et al., Discovery of Egypt (1990); N. Miller, 'Vivant Denon's outlandish journeys', in Daidalos, 19 (1986 March 15), p.38-53; I.A. Ghali, Vivant Denon ou la conquête du bonheur (1986).

For the influence ancient Egyptian art on European styles a survey is Egyptomania [exhibition catalogue] (1994).

On the printer Pierre Didot see C.M. Osborne, Pierre Didot and French book illustration 1759-1822 (1985).

Summary Note

The title of the second volume reads, 'Planches Du Voyage Dans La basse Et La Haute Égypte'. The edition was issued both on 'papier velin' (at least 150 copies), and on 'papier ordinaire' (at least 400 copies). A three-volume duodecimo edition was issued in the same year; and in the same year appeared Blagdon's English translation, Travels in Upper and Lower Egypt (2 vols. 16mo. with 10 plates). Translations afterwards appeared in Dutch (1803) and Italian (1808).

From 1776 to 1785 Denon had served as a French diplomat at Naples, where he made the acquaintance of Sir William Hamilton, and began his own collections (520 of his vases were acquired by Louis XVI and were deposited at Sevres to be copied). He travelled to Egypt with other scholars as part of Napoleon Bonaparte's military and scientific expedition of 1798-99. A few of his plates are views of battles - including Bonaparte's victory at the Pyramids (t. II pl. 12) and his defeat at Abuqir by Nelson (t.II pl. 90). Others show Egyptians or Egyptian plants and animals, and one plate (t. II pl. 54 bis no.2) shows Denon himself drawing among the ruins (for which he provides in the text-volume a lively description of the difficulties of an eighteenth-century war-artist); but the majority are views of ancient buildings or details of sculpture and other antiquities. The book was the first attempt at a comprehensive and detailed account of Egyptian monuments; and was a spur to an 'Egyptian Revival' in the decorative arts in Europe.

Most of the original drawings for the plates are preserved in the British Museum, London.


Acquired ca. 1802 (RAA Council Minutes III, 155, for 7 August 1802, record the Council's unanimous decision to purchase the work, at the suggestion of Mr Flaxman and Mr Humphry). Recorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1821.

Binding Note

19th-century half calf, green watered-cloth-covered boards; rebacked and recornered in 20th century, spine lettered 'Denon Voyage En Egypte Tome I (II)'.

Name as Subject


Antiquities - Architecture, Ancient - Ruins - Sculpture - Monuments - Art, Egyptian - Egypt - History
French - Expeditions - Egypt - Description and travel - History - 18th century - 19th century
Decorative arts - Interior decoration - Egyptian Revival - Europe - 19th century - Sources
Views - France - 19th century
Pictorial works - France - 19th century


Images from this book

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