French savants huddled together at the top of a column, while a band of Bedouin Arabs set fire to it below; exaggerating the troubled experience of the 'Commission des Sciences et des Arts' during Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. Coloured etching by J. Gillray, 1799.
- Gillray, James, 1756-1815.
- 6 March 1799
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About this work
The French army which invaded Egypt in 1798 under the command of General Bonaparte was accompanied by a party of 165 savants, the Commission des Arts et des Sciences, including artists, naturalists, medical officers, surveyors, engineers, etc., led by the mathematician Gaspard Monge and the chemist Claude Louis Berthollet. Their activities included surveys of ancient monuments, studies of medical conditions (published by R. Desgenettes, 'Histoire médicale de l'armée en orient', Paris 1802) and collections of natural history specimens. The difficult working conditions of the savants, aggravated by a hostile native population, were revealed in letters which were intercepted by the British fleet and published in London in 1798-1800. Gillray, in this etching purportedly derived "from the original intercepted drawing", shows members of the Commission being harrassed by Bedouins and Mamluks while attempting to survey 'Pompey's column' in Alexandria, near where the French army disembarked on 2 July 1798. "Humour facile, qu'excuse la passion éveillée par la guerre. Plus tard, les Anglais porteront sur l'oeuvre civile de Bonaparte en Égypte une attention plus sérieuse et plus équitable" (F. Charles Roux, p. 100) Some of the savants, however, shared Gillray's view of their circumstances
- Columns, Corinthian
- Cultural relativism
- Science and civilization
- Wings (Anatomy)
- Social contract
- Scientific apparatus and instruments
- Science and state
- France |History –Revolution, 1789-1799
- Alexandria (Egypt)
- Monge, Gaspard, 1746-1818.
- Berthollet, Claude-Louis, 1748-1822.
- Volney, C.-F. (Constantin-François), 1757-1820.
- Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, 1769-1821.
- Fourier, Jean-Baptiste-Joseph, 1768-1830.
- Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Etienne, 1772-1844.
- Dolomieu, Déodat de, 1750-1801.
- Nouet, Nicolas-Antoine, 1740-1811.
- Méchain, Pierre, 1744-1804.
- Savigny, Maris Jules César, 1777-1851.
- Redouté, Pierre Joseph, 1759-1840.
- Desgenettes, R. (René), baron, 1762-1837.
- Larrey, D. J. (Dominique Jean), baron, 1766-1842.
- France. Commission des sciences et arts d'Egypte