Art & Art History ETDs

Publication Date



This dissertation examines the work of three photographers, Maxime Du Camp, Félix Teynard and John Beasley Greene, active in Egypt in the middle of the nineteenth century. In doing so, it relates the new technology of photography to the developing discipline of Egyptology in France. It proposes connections between the photographic oeuvres of Du Camp, Teynard, and Greene and contemporary trends in the study of Egyptian antiquity. It reveals the extent to which the personal circumstances of the three photographers mediated the influence of different sectors of the French academic and intellectual establishment.

The intent of this work is to counter current critical readings of nineteenth-century image-making in the Middle East as a monolithic undertaking informed by ideological constructions of imperialism. The individual photographic surveys made by Maxime Du Camp between 1849 and 1851, Félix Teynard in 1851-52, and John Beasley Greene from 1853 to his death in 1856, have an internal coherence that permits them to be read as extended visual narratives that encode intellectual and cultural constructions of the East and Egyptian antiquity. This approach permits an examination of the role played a number of forces dominant in French culture: academic institutions, such as the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and the Académie des Sciences; the enduring power of past French accomplishments in the study of Egypt, in particular the Description de l'Égypte and Champollion's contribution to the decipherment of hieroglyphic text; the Romantic construction of history; the demands of philological study; the embryonic beginnings of an excavation-based science of archaeology; and conflicting ambitions for photography as a scientific record and as an art form.

The focus of this dissertation is on the way in which Maxime Du Camp, Félix Teynard, and John Beasley Greene integrated these conflicting cultural constructions to create coherent visual narratives that addressed the presence of a deep historical past within a complex, contemporary landscape.

Project Sponsors

Chester Dale Fellowship, J. Paul Getty Museum



Document Type


Degree Name

Art History

Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

Eugenia Parry Janis

Second Committee Member

O. Joseph Rothrock

Third Committee Member

Elizabeth Anne McCauley

Fourth Committee Member

Christopher Mead