Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Medinet-Habu

Artist:
John Beasley Greene (American, active France, 1832–1856)
Date:
1854
Medium:
Salted paper print from paper negative
Dimensions:
23.4 x 30.1 cm (9 3/16 x 11 7/8 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Howard Gilman Foundation Gift, 1989
Accession Number:
1989.1063
Not on view
From 1852 to 1855 Greene, the first photographer-archaeologist to work and travel in Egypt, concentrated his studies and excavations at Thebes and Deir el-Bahri. At Medinet-Habu (Thebes) he cleaned important inscriptions. This photograph represents a corner of a second courtyard of the temple and depicts the last eighteen lines of the inscription of the year 5 of the reign of the Ramesses III, recounting with effusive praise the king's victories over the peoples to the north.


Whether or not we can decipher the writing upon the wall, the message of Greene's picture is clear. In the penumbra behind the massive pylon is the story of a perished people preserved in stone. The velvet shadows of this eggplant-colored print make tangible the millennia between Ramesses' glory and that less distant moment when the young archaeologist contemplated the chronicle he had exposed.

Inscription: Paper manufacturer's blind stamp on mount, recto, upper right corner: "BRISTOL FRANCAIS // A. BINANT // A PARIS [with crown]"; inscribed in pencil on mount, verso, lower right: "I. 42"
[Gérard Lévy, Paris]

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Nineteenth Century European Photographs: Recent Acquisitions," October 2, 1991–December 1, 1991.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 6," August 29, 1994–December 12, 1994.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Along the Nile: Early Photographs of Egypt," September 11, 2001–December 30, 2001.

See MMA Bulletin, Fall 1989.
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