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Collecting Historic Cairo through drawing, photography and artifact: amateur Arthur-Ali Rhoné and the production of antiquarian knowledge on the “Well-protected” in the 1880s

  • Mercedes Volait
Thursday 2 November 2017
LUCIS Fall Fellow 2017: Mercedes Volait
University Library
Witte Singel 27
2311 BG Leiden

The development of object-based or object-oriented research in the formative years of the study of Islamic art and architecture represented another drive for art acquisition in the Middle East. Following the flourishing of antiquarianism during the long 19th c., artefacts and material culture were sought after by antiquarians, initially in Europe but increasingly in the non-Western world, for scholarly purpose. Historians long held negative views of antiquarian knowledge. It was seen as failing to provide, besides meticulous research, an edifying interpretation of the past.

Since the return to careful empirical scholarship, and the recent “material turn” in the humanities, representations have shifted again and antiquarian work is being reassessed. The lecture will discuss along this perspective the work of early Islamicists that studied Middle Eastern material culture for historical purposes, and in particular the research and writing of French “antiquarian” Arthur-Ali Rhoné, who spent some thirty years mapping the architecture and urban fabric of historic Cairo using drawings and photographs, and object-based evidence to contradict existing assumptions.

This lecture is part of the conference Collecting the Muslim World. There are limited seats available for non-participants. If you want to attend a part of the conference, please send an email to lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl with your name and the dates you want to attend.

Anciens carreaux de faïence, style persan, collection Arthur Rhoné (author’s objects reproduced in his book L’Égypte à petites journées, le Caire d’autrefois, Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1910, p. 259).
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