Map of Egypt, 1850, Mitchell and Cowperthwait
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Map of Egypt, 1850, Mitchell and Cowperthwait

Regular price $150.00

Map of Egypt, 1850, Mitchell and Cowperthwait

Unlike other Mitchell maps, this depiction of Egypt includes numerous notes marking environmental details (such as where doum palm trees begin to appear), archaeological sites (ancient temples, cities, etc.), regions of different Arab groups, and other descriptive notations. This intense fascination with the geography, culture and history of Egypt reflects the obsession that the West had with the Middle East and Egyptian pharaonic history in particular. Indeed, 1850 was a time when Orientalism began to grip the art scene with Western artists drawing pleasure from what appeared to be an exotic, sensuous, and unchanging society devoid of morals. Aestheticism also drew inspiration from Egypt and other lands in the "Far East" for interior design and sculpture. Meanwhile, Egypt itself was under the rein of Wali Abbas I, who strongly rejected foreign influence and progression of industry. However, there was an irony to his love of fine luxuries, including the breeding of horses, which strangely coincided with Western misperceptions and no doubt did nothing to aid in correcting foreign stereotypes of the Middle East.

Samuel Augustus Mitchell (1792-1868) turned his attention to mapmaking in the 1830s, due to his dissatisfaction with available school maps. He developed a map publishing business that would make him and later his son the most prominent American map publishers of the nineteenth century. By collaborating with prominent mapmakers and engravers of the day, such as James H. Young and Henry S. Tanner, Mitchell ensured that the maps he published were of the highest quality. During the 1850s, he partnered with Thomas, Cowperthwait, & Company to publish his atlas. In 1860, his son Samuel Augustus, Jr, joined the company and he ensured that the Mitchell name remained an important one well into the 1880s.

Thomas, Cowperthwait, and Company was founded sometime in the early 1800s by Joseph Thomas and Hulings Cowperthwait. It operated under this name until 1853. The following year the company name changed to Cowperthwait, Desilver, and Butler. However, this configuration only lasted for about a year, before it became H. Cowperthwait & Company in 1856. After 1860, it appears the company experienced several more alterations, before ceasing publication at the end of the century.

- Onastasia Youssef

Plate size: 15" x 12" 

Condition: Some very minor foxing, but otherwise in excellent condition


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