© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Francis Frith, British (Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England 1822 - 1898 Reigate, England)
The Pyramids of Sakkarah from the North East
Work Type
Creation Place: Africa
Physical Descriptions
Albumen silver print
Albumen silver print
image: 38.8 x 48.5 cm (15 1/4 x 19 1/8 in.)
mount: 53.6 x 73.7 cm (21 1/8 x 29 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: Inscribed on negative in BR corner: Frith. 1858
  • inscription: yes, recto, bottom right below image, pre-printed mount: Frith Photo. 1857
  • inscription: recto, bottom center of mount, pre-printed mount: THE PYRAMIDS OF SAKKARAH From the North East
  • inscription: recto, bottom right of image, inscribed in negative: Frith 1858
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Dr. Daniel Tassel
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Label Text: 32Q: 2100 19th Century , written 2015
Having achieved business success as a wholesaler in Liverpool, Frith made three voyages to the Middle East between 1856 and 1860. His works were later distributed to a wide audience through luxurious published collections and more affordable stereoscopic prints.

This photograph shows two monuments from Saqqara, royal necropolis for the ancient city of Memphis, 30km south of modern Cairo. The Stepped Pyramid, or Mausoleum of Djoser, is in the distance, and the Pyramid of Userkaf is in the middle ground. Two pairs of figures—likely Frith’s assistants—are located at intervals, giving the composition a sense of scale and monumentality. Snaking between the monuments, tracks in the sand draw the viewer into the frame while alluding to the presence of an unseen photographer. The small piles of rock and sand in the foreground echo the larger monuments, enhancing the rhythmic quality of the image.

Exhibition History

HAA 1 Survey Course: Survey of World Art: Reproduction/Production, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/29/2005 - 04/10/2005

Around Antique: Prints, Drawings, and Photographs (Teaching Gallery) S421, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/14/2010 - 09/04/2010

32Q: 2100 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/10/2015 - 03/10/2016

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu