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Napoleon In Egypt — Athenaeum Salon

L'Egypte Frontispiece (11.8) The Athenaeum hosts a salon Friday featuring Brown University Assistant Professor of Archaeology and Egyptology & Ancient Western Asian Studies Laurel Bestock on “The Lure of the Exotic: Egyptomania in the wake of the Napoleonic expedition.”

When Napoleon invaded Egypt at the turn of the 19th century, his forces included a group of scholars, artist, engineers, and other scientists assigned to document everything from the flora and fauna to the architecture and antiquities they found. Their work culminated in the publication between 1809 and 1829 of the Description de l’Egypte, a large-format, multi-volume, comprehensive description, complete with detailed engravings, of ancient and modern Egypt, including its natural history. The dissemination of this monumental work sparked “Egyptomania” – a veritable craze for ancient Egyptian culture – throughout the Western world; its influence could be traced through everything from literature to fashion in the early to mid-nineteenth century.

The Athenaeum was able to purchase a copy of the Description in 1836; it is still available for viewing by the public today. This Salon serves as prequel to a series that will continue in spring 2014 (when a related exhibit will open as well) on 19th century developments in travel, exploration, and natural history, including how their influence found cultural expression during that time.

5pm to 7pm, Friday, November 8, Providence Athenaeum, 251 Benefit Street