1860 Antonio Beato Albumen Silver Print Photograph: Colossi of Memnon, Thebes, Egypt

The Colossi of Thebes. - Main View

1860 Antonio Beato Albumen Silver Print Photograph: Colossi of Memnon, Thebes, Egypt


'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!' - Shelly


The Colossi of Thebes.
  1860 (undated)     14 x 17 in (35.56 x 43.18 cm)


This is a c. 1860 Antonio Beato albumen silver print from a glass negative depicting the Colossi of Memnon, Thebes, Egypt. The great statues of Amenhotep III dominate the images, with an ancient temple in the background. Egyptians stand near each statue, likely intended to provide scale to the 50-foot-high monuments. The owner of the photograph seems to have been particularly fascinated with them and has jotted notes below the image.
These images were from the collections of Roswell Dwight Hitchcock (1817 - 1887). Hitchcock was a congregationalist minister and professor at Bowdoin and later at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. His ministry took him to Germany in the 1840s. Afterwards, he visited Italy and Greece in 1866, and in 1869 and 1870 he traveled to Egypt and Palestine. He was appointed president of the American Palestine Exploration Society in 1871, and vice-president of the American Geographical Society in 1880. Whether he acquired these before traveling to Egypt, there, or on his way back to America, is unknown.
Publication History and Census
Scarce. While Beato took many photos of the Colossi of Memnon, this is the only example of the present image we have identified.


Antonio Beato (1835 - 1906) was an Italian-British photographer best known for his work in Egypt and the Mediterranean region. Beato was born of a Venetian family. He became a British citizen as a young man. He is often associated with his older brother Felice Beato (1832 - January 29, 1909), also a photographer, with whom he worked extensively, often sharing a signature as 'Felice Antonio Beato' or 'Felice A. Beato'. The brothers may have been introduced to photography in Malta in 1850 where they met British photographer James Robertson (1813 - 1888). One of the brothers, it is not clear which, purchased photographic equipment in Paris in 1851. Again, one of the brothers accompanied Robertson to Constantinople in 1851, where they formed a partnership, 'Robertson and Beato' in 1853. By this time, both brothers were working with Robertson in Constantinople. They traveled to India, in 1857 and 1858, photographing the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Antonio set off for Europe in 1859 by way of Suez. He likely changed his plans in route, as shortly thereafter we find him in Cairo, then Luxor, where he opened a photographic studio in 1862. He remained in Luxor, taking photographs of monuments and tourists, until his death in 1906. More by this mapmaker...


Good. Some scuffing. Actual size of photo is 8.5 x 11 in.