The Hypaethral Temple, Philae (Egypt)

Francis Frith1857

Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum
Cincinnati, United States

Francis Frith, a topographical and architectural photographer, recognized the money-making possibilities in producing first-rate photographs of exotic places such as Egypt and Palestine.

In the early 1850s, when Frederick Scott Archer introduced, but did not patent, the collodion process, Frith saw an entrepreneurial opportunity. The collodion process, unlike the daguerreotype process, created a negative from which numerous copies could be printed on paper. In 1856, Frith sailed to Egypt. He made three additional trips before 1860, periodically returning to England, where his photographs were published and marketed to the public.

Frith took "The Hypaethral Temple" between September 1856 and July 1857, during his first trip to Egypt. Making the negative for this print was especially difficult given the intense heat, dust, and flies of the Middle East, because the collodion-coated glass plates had to remain wet during exposure and processing. The temperature inside Frith’s traveling dark-room tent, which is visible on the boat in the photograph, often rose above 110 degrees. "The Hypaethral Temple" is Plate 10 of Frith's "Egypt, Sinai, and Jerusalem: A Series of Twenty Photographic Views," published in London by W. Mackenzie, circa 1860, and republished in London by J.S. Virtue in 1862.


  • Title: The Hypaethral Temple, Philae (Egypt)
  • Creator: Francis Frith (English, b.1822, d.1898)
  • Creator Lifespan: 1822/1898
  • Creator Nationality: English
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Date Created: 1857
  • Location Created: Egypt
  • Physical Dimensions: image 14 13/16 x 18 13/16 in. (37.7 x 47.9 cm) on sheet 21 1/8 x 29 1/16 in. (53.7 x 73.9 cm)
  • Credit Line: Museum Purchase: Gift of Bertha Pfirrman in memory of Emma Hoeller, Mrs. Joseph Eichberg, Mrs. Frank Shaffer, Jr. and Thekla Glemser, by exchange
  • Type: Photograph
  • Medium: albumen print from wet-collodion negative
  • Accession Number: 1978.245

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