Maxime Du Camp 1822-1894

Biography

Orphaned at fifteen and heir to a large fortune, Du Camp was a true man of letters. He learned calotypy from Gustave Le Gray, and despite having travelled to the Near East before, convinced his friend Gustave Flaubert to accompany him on a photographic tour in 1849.

On their twenty-one-month tour, Du Camp made 220 calotypes of various subjects throughout Egypt, North Africa, and the Middle East, most notably Egyptian landmarks such as the pyramids and the Sphinx. One-hundred twenty-five of Du Camp's negatives were printed by Louis-Desire Blanquart-Evrard, and published as a book in 1852. Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie is considered the world's first travel photography book. Its publication served as a social highlight for the personalities in Paris during a time of 'calotype mania', after the creation of the Societe Heliographique.

Du Camp received the Legion d'Honneure in 1852 even before the publication of his photographs, which were finally exhibited in the 1855 Exposition Universelle. He was somewhat surprised that his photographic career outshined his literary career, and from the 1855 onward on focused his attention on his personal writing and journalism.

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