Adina Sommer`s Rare Antique Maps and Contemporary Art

Costumes et Portraits. E. M. Vol. II.

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Article ID DF0678
Artist Duplessis-Bertaux (1747-1820)
Duplessis-Bertaux Jean was a french painter, printer and drawer. He illustrated many books in France and abroad and became famous because of his detailed prints of the french revolution.
Title Costumes et Portraits. E. M. Vol. II.
Year c. 1817
Description
Decorative print depicts 30 different costumes of Minor Asia. The many costumes worn in Egypt at the time of the French occupation captivated the fantasy of the Western observers. The variety of dress and costume exemplified Egypt's cultural richness. Garments were apparently selected for this plate based on what they revealed about the various racial types and indigenous groups.
Military costumes, such as those in figures 1, 2, 4 and 11, illustrate the distinctions across rank, title, and status among Egyptian soldiers. Another soldier is depicted in figure 3, yet this man's dress is distinctly different from that of the previous group because he is a Janizary, or Turkish soldier. Beys, leaders of the warrior-caste that ruled in Egypt, are shown elaborately dressed with elongated swords, in figures 5 and 8. In figures 7 and 17, the slave-soldiers, or Mamelukes, wear full trousers and three-quarter-length cloaks; and in figures 12 and 15, Arab warriors dress in simpler cloaks and feature closely wrapped turbans. The properly draped and veiled female dancer in figure 13 contrasts with the exotically dressed dancer in figure 14. Women of the harem are illustrated in figures 25 and 27, adorned with elaborate garments, jewels, headdresses, and elevated shoes. Another group of women in figure 26 is shown wearing religiously prescribed protective veils and full-length robes. Costumes of the sheikhs, holy men or Arabic chiefs, are shown in figures 16, 18, 20, and 21. In figure 28, a Copt scribe, member of an ethnic group believed to have been a direct descendant of the ancient Egyptians, is portrayed as a scholar identified by his pen and inkwell. The remaining figures (6, 9, 10, 19, 22, 23, 24, 29, and 30) portray diverse costumes from various groups, adding further evidence for the variety of cultures and races in Cairo at the time of French occupation. Figures 6 and 22 are identified as Jews; 9, 29, and 30 are court officials; 23 is a Greek Orthodox priest; and 10 is a warrior on a camel.
Although the French scholars encountered a wide diversity of peoples during their exploration of Egypt, and hoped to portray each group as distinct and unique in its own ways, most of the illustrations they recorded only underscored stereotypical views of “the Oriental” by portraying each figure with cliché attributes, dress, or manner.
N.M.
Place of Publication Paris
Dimensions (cm)44 x 59
ConditionSome folds
Coloringoriginal colored
TechniqueCopper print

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