The Great Rameses

American, ca. 1920

The story of American Egyptomania is often one of rather freewheeling imagery. Pyramids, sphinxes, pharaohs, slaves, science, magic, secrets, revelations – all could be combined in almost infinite number of unpredictable ways, making for an almost endless number of variations. This was, in fact, one of Egyptomania’s biggest draws: for every person interested in narrowing down the specific meaning of a given image or artifact, for every person devoted to objectively defining what, exactly, the truth of a given topic was, there was another person who was thrilled to be able to make the interpretation of an image wide open for anyone, a person who intentionally ignored the limiting definitions of science or history and made Egyptomania work the way they wanted it to. Popular culture appropriations of Egyptian imagery were especially good at this; the fact that a sphinx or a pyramid could mean not one thing but any number of things meant that popular performers would forever have a wellspring of evocative and yet instantly recognizable images from which to draw. This advertisement for a turn-of-the-century magician utilizes some of the best-known images of Egyptomania, but adds, no doubt for its own good reasons, the added attraction of a duck!



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THE GREAT RAMSES

THE EASTERN MYSTIC

s. C. ALLEN

A Company LTD.

20 Gerrano St.

LONDON, W.1

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