Neo-Egyptian Architecture

Just as Greek architecture had a strong appeal to early 19th-century New Yorkers as a means to express civic pride and institutional strength, Egyptian-style architecture also resonated, but for very different reasons. Napoleon’s scientists spent much of the 1820s publishing the Description de l’Égypte (Description of Egypt), a remarkable multi-volume work that described and recorded Egypt’s rich archaeological, architectural, artistic and natural histories. These well-illustrated volumes were read across Europe and the United States with excitement, and they had a direct impact on the art and architecture produced in the first half of the 19th century. Egyptian architecture was famed for being solid, monumental and a testament to the technical might of the ancient Egyptians, whose temples and pyramids were far older than Greco-Roman architecture and had, in many cases, endured better than later monuments.