The Great Pyramid and the Sphinx

Object Details


The Great Pyramid and the Sphinx


Francis Frith (English, 1822 - 1898)




Giza, Egypt (Place depicted)




Albumen silver print


Sheet: 39.5 x 49.1 cm (15 9/16 x 19 5/16 in.)

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When Francis Frith made this photograph, the sphinx at Giza was buried almost to its neck in desert sand. He may or may not have been aware that beneath that sand lay the 150-foot long body of a lion. Frith perfectly centered the Great Pyramid and the Great Sphinx in the composition, including a few figures in the foreground to provide a sense of scale.

The pyramids and sphinx at Giza, widely published now, were an astounding site to any viewer in the 1800s. Shortly after the development of photography, people began to dream about the landscape, architecture, and people of far away places--all of which seemed exotic and romantic. All along the Nile, Frith made 16 x 20-inch mammoth plate images, which he subsequently compiled and sold in enormous leather-bound albums.

Voyages and Visions: Early Photographs from the Wilson Family Collection (October 24, 2000 to February 18, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 24, 2000 to February 18, 2001
Antiquity & Photography: Early Views of Ancient Mediterranean Sites (November 9, 2005 to May 1, 2006)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa, (Malibu), November 9, 2005 to May 1, 2006