Inspired by the past
The rediscovery of ancient civilisations – Egyptian, Assyrian, Hittite and Phoenician – captured the public imagination. Visitors flocked to see the newly excavated monuments. Books describing the discoveries sold in huge quantities. Public lectures were unfailingly popular.
Everyone wanted to show off his or her knowledge of archaeology and appreciation of the new artistic styles. “Egyptomania” took hold repeatedly: first after Napoleon’s expedition, revived when the Suez Canal was built in 1869, and again in 1920s, with the discovery of Tut-ankh-amun’s tomb.
Archaeological discoveries combined with oriental fantasies, stories from the Bible, tales from the Greeks and translations of the One Thousand and One Nights, to make the Arab World, ancient and modern, an irresistible source of inspiration for art, music, theatre, decorative arts and architecture. An enthused populace funded exploration, excavation and survey work.
Exposition Universelle - Their Royal Imperial Majesties and the Viceroy of Egypt visit the Temple of Edfu
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National Library of France , Paris, France
Artist: Filippo Liardo; illustrator: Gustave Janet
Shared appreciation of past cultures was a way to build closer relations between modern nations.