NORDEN, Frederik-Ludvig.

NORDEN, Frederik-Ludvig. Travels in Egypt and Nubia

London, Lockyer Davis and Charles Reymers, 1757


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. 2 vols in one. pp. [xl] 154, 232 [8]. Roman letter, a little Italic. 1 foldout map, 6 engraved foldout plates in excellent impression, based on Norden’s original drawings of panoramic scenes of Egypt and a plan of the port of Alexandria, created by J. Mynde. Autograph of Richard Harington Chesterton, 1757, on front flyleaf. 19th C engraved label with Ashbrook family crest on front pastedown. Light yellowing, minor offsetting. In contemporary calf, spine gilt, strengthened at some date with additional leather, slightly scuffed, a.e.r.

First English edition of Danish explorer Frederik-Ludvig Norden’s (1708-1742) account of his travels from Alexandria to Deir, translated by Peter Tempelman from Jean-Baptiste Des Roches de Parthenay’s (1690-1768) 1755 French translation. In his address to the king, Tempelman sets out his desire to ‘improve on the original’, and elegantly summarises the text as an opportunity to ‘accompany the author in his voyage, and to share in all his pleasures without undergoing the fatigue or the dangers’ (pp.vii). Norden was a captain in the Danish navy, sent on expedition to Egypt by Christian VI in 1737. Reaching Alexandria in June, he journeyed down the Nile until early 1738, recording his travels in a diary and producing many studies of ancient monuments, often sketched on the spot. This edition showcases the obelisks of Cleopatra and Matareen, the column of Pompey in Alexandria, views of Luxor– including the palace of Memnon and its two colossal statues– the pyramids at Saqqara, a view of Edfu, the temple at Esnay and examples of rock carvings. These plates all have descriptions to match, since the text is a compilation of Norden’s copious journalistic notes, recorded throughout the expedition. In addition, there are in-depth footnotes referring to a variety of ancient and modern authors who have written about Egypt, such as Strabo, Pliny, Tacitus, Pausanias, Philostratus, Lucian, Dionysius, Juvenal, Vansleb and Maillet. These give a more complete survey of the country’s monuments and history, with quotations and critical analysis from across the centuries.

In this edition, the text is divided into 2 parts, the first covering the portion of the journey from Alexandria through Cairo, the second his journey and return from Deir. Norden’s work was greatly appreciated at the time, the preface noting that ‘the beautiful simplicity of the designs, and the exactness with which they were drawn on the spot, are, I believe, superior to anything of the kind that has ever been published’. The quality of the engravings is notable and forms the first comprehensive study of Egyptian antique monuments until Napoleon’s expedition, around half a century later.

ESTC T6299. Lowndes 1697.