'The Hypæthral Temple, Philæ', albumen print, framed and glazed [cf. Gernsheim, Incunabula, 130; cf. Goldschmidt & Naef 62], image to view 375 x 470mm., [c.1857]
One of Frith's mammoth-plate collodion photographs from a suite of images taken for his book Egypt, Sinai, and Jerusalem: a Series of Twenty Photographic Views, 1858, described by Gernsheim as "the largest book with the biggest, unenlarged prints ever published". The clarity and quality of these photographs, developed in a makeshift darkroom cum carriage in inhospitable desert conditions are unprecedented in the history of photography. In Frith's note on this photograph he states that the Hypæthral Temple, or Pharoah's Bed, "is the most beautiful thing upon the island. I flatter myself, too, some what, upon the quality of my Photograph, - light transparent shadows, sweet half-tones...[T]he temple outdoes the Tower of Babel... robbing the picture of well-nigh all its sky - that feature so essential to the picturesque in landscape. But what could I do? I must give that scrap of water, and the Nile boat...and I could not falsify the height of the bank, as I see most artists have done, to suit the proportions of my picture" (Richard Lunn, Francis Frith's Egypt and the Holy Land: The Pioneering Photographic Expeditions to the Middle East, p.94). See illustration overleaf.