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Egypt: Danseuses au bord du Nil
Danseuses au bord du Nil
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type: copper engraving
width in cm:20.5
height in cm: 17.5
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Orientalist, painter, architect, engraver and traveller Louis-François Cassas toured extensively through the orient in the 18th century. Disguised as deaf and dumb arab, he secretly made designs of the events he encountered during his travels. At that time it was extremely dangerous for an European to travel
trough the Middle East. Egypt formed still part of the Ottoman empire. In 1784 the French artist Louis-François Cassas arrived in Constantinople as a member of the retinue of the French ambassador to the Ottoman court and was able to travel extensively through the various provinces of the Ottoman empire. This is one of the drawings Cassas made during two visits to Egypt (Cairo and Alexandria) in 1785. This picture "Danseuses au bord du Nil" of his drawings collected under the name Voyage en Orient (in full "Voyage Pittoresque de la Syrie, de la Phoenicie, de la Palestine, et de la Basse Égypte.") dates around 1785. This work of L.F. Cassas is little known as it was discovered just recently. Vivid
colours and an eye for detail pictures even the reflection in the water of two ghawazee women dancing. Music was performed by two female percussion players and
two male baglâma players. The reflection of the dancers in the water once more testifies the high skill of Cassas.
Cassas accompanied Choiseul-Gouffier on his embassy to Constantinople in 1784 but remained there only a few weeks. From the end of 1784 to 1787 he travelled in the Levant, more especially the Archipelago, Egypt and Syria, at Choiseul-Gouffier's expense. The drawings include studies of costumes, architectural pieces, monuments, views, scenes from daily life, animals, etc. Most of the plates in this work illustrate views and monuments, although there are some splendid plates of processions showing costumes etc. While he was in Egypt Cassas drew the antiquities of Alexandria,the pyramids of Giza, and the mosques of Cairo. In Syria, Cassas made numerous drawings of Palmyra and in Lebanon he produced another series illustrating Baalbec.
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