The monumental Orient

In the 18th century, Egyptian monuments and then the Holy Land caught the fascination of scholars in Europe. The brief occupation of Egypt by Bonaparte's armies coincided with the first large-scale inventory, published in ten volumes of texts and thirteen of illustration plates, entitled the Description of Egypt, which paved the way for other encyclopaedic or more specialised studies.

Émile Prisse d'Avennes (1807-1879)

As a skilful draughtsman and tireless polygraph, Émile Prisse d’Avennes was the author of a protean body of work about the ancient and medieval monuments of Egypt, discovered thanks to his recruitment in 1827 from the Egyptian military school, after training as an engineer at Arts et Métiers.

Arthur-Ali Rhoné (1836-1910)

Arthur-Ali Rhoné embodies perfectly the figure of an amateur of great curiosity, devoting himself body and soul to all kinds of heritage causes, having failed to find a place in an academic institution. In particular, he made a decisive contribution to the protection of monuments in Cairo.


It was from Britain that the trend for steam baths spread to France during the Second Empire. Apart from their hygienic virtues, French society saw them as being places to socialise.

The Volkoff Album: panorama of the public and private architecture of Cairo during the first half of the 20th century

The architecture of 20th century Cairo was photographed far less than its historical monuments. An album assembled in the early 1930s provides a rare anthology of productions that were then considered to be eminent.

Emile Bechard
The new Cairo in 1874

In 1874, the photographer Émile Béchard provided a detailed panorama of the first buildings in the new quarter which the Khedive Ismail had started to create in Cairo, modelled on new Parisian housing developments.