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Maison Bonfils

Caire, Grande Pyramide de Chéops (Cairo, Great Pyramid of Cheops [Khufu], Giza)

1867–c. 1890s

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The Great Pyramid of Cheops in Giza, outside of Cairo, was built for Khufu, the second king of the Fourth
Dynasty. As the tallest ancient pyramid in the world, it was a common stop for tourists traveling in Egypt. The photograph on the right provides a landscape view looking up to the pyramid framed against the open sky. At left is a close-up of an entrance into the pyramid’s inner chambers. The photographer likely arranged men around the entry to suggest its scale and depth. Tourists often collected images of different vantage points of the same monuments. This practice allowed viewers to move through space and recreate a visit to such sites. These photographs also reinforce the European stereotype of Egypt as a temporally static land—the man emerging from the pyramid could be a contemporary Egyptian or an ancient builder of the pyramid, conflating Egypt’s past and present by including these local men in traditional long, loose-fitted robes and excluding all traces of modern life. [Permanent collection label, 2023]

  • Artist Maison Bonfils (Studio active in Beirut, 1867–1939)
  • Title Caire, Grande Pyramide de Chéops (Cairo, Great Pyramid of Cheops [Khufu], Giza)
  • Date 1867–c. 1890s
  • Medium Albumen silver print
  • Dimensions image | 8 1/8 x 10 7/8 in.
    sheet | 11 x 8 5/8 in.
    mount | 14 x 18 1/8 in.
    mount | Secondary mount, 15 15/16 x 19 15/16 in.
    matted | 16 x 22 in.
  • Credit line Gift of Laurie Wilson, Robert Frerck, and family, 2015
  • Object number 454.2015
  • Currently on View Works on Paper Gallery

19th- and 20th-Century Travel Photography
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 11/11/2022

12/10/2015 Received at MLKAM; 12/30/2015 Deed of Gift signed by L. Wilson; 3/31/2016 ACC presentation
Robert Frerck (Chicago, IL)

Inscription Artist name, as printed in image, LLC: Bonfils

Inscription Caption, as printed in image, LRC: 113 Caire, Grande Pyramide de Chéop (the ‘s’ has been cropped off)

Inscription Plate number, as printed in image, LRC: 113

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