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Geographies of Contact

Caroline Lehni
Fanny Moghaddassi
Hélène Ibata
et al.

IV. Sites Turned into Sights

British Travellers in the Isthmus of Suez, from Napoleon’s Campaign (1798) to the Construction of the Canal (1859)

Hélène Braeuner
Traduction de Jean-Yves Bart

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During the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century, the narratives of travellers to Egypt recurrently mentioned the Suez Canal project,1 which fascinated public opinions in Europe and roused the interests of political leaders. The connection between the two seas went together with the ambition to conquer Egypt, as European powers wished to improve commercial links with India. During his Egyptian campaign (1798-1801), Napoleon Bonaparte himself explored the Isthmus of Suez.2 One of the volumes of the Description de l’Egypte, which was published long after the campaign itself, maps out the vestiges of the Canal of the Pharaohs, which in Antiquity connected the Nile to the Red Sea.3 It also describes the town and port of Suez, with illustrations by André Dutertre, an artist working for the “Commission des Sciences et des Arts”,4 that completed the corpus of representations of the old city by the modern-day explorers.

Between the return of the French from Egypt an...


Doctor in art history. Her research centres on the analysis of images and discourses related to Orientalist art, following on her PhD thesis on “The representations of the Suez Canal (15th-20th century): aesthetics and politics of a vision” (University of Strasbourg, 2015). Among other titles, she is the author of several studies on nineteenth-century artists (Les peintres de la Baie de Somme, autour de l’Impressionnisme, 2001; Victor Hugo, récits et dessins de voyages, 2001; Les peintres de l’Alsace, 2003), which were published by La Renaissance du Livre. On Orientalist painting, she is the author of “Séailles biographe: Dehodencq ou le martyr de l’art”, in Gabriel Séailles, Anthologie critique (Paris, Kimé, 2010).

Jean-Yves Bart (Traducteur)

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2017

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