A truly monumental work, the Description de l'Égypte provides an encyclopaedic overview of Egypt ranging from ancient monuments through botany and geography to descriptions of customs and mores. This title page fulfills a programmatic role with regard to the 22 volumes of the work: it is designed to provide both an eye-catching opening and an instruction on how to read subsequent volumes. Individual motifs as much as the illustration’s overall composition represent the stated aims of Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt: a civilising mission in which military power is flanked by the arts and sciences, all joining to liberate the ancient civilization of Egypt from Ottomans and Mamluks.
Frontispiece, vol. 1, in: M. (Edme-François) Jomard (1777–1862) (ed.): Description de l'Égypte: ou, Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Égypte pendant l'expédition de l'armée française, Paris 1809–1828; source: General Research Division, The New York Public Library, The New York Public Library Digital Collections, public domain.