Photo from Voyage dans la Basse et la Haute Égypte, courtesy of the George Peabody Library of the Johns Hopkins University

The French invaders/travelers were awestruck by the splendor of the monuments they encountered on their journey south, halting their march and breaking into spontaneous applause when they first saw the Temple of Hathor at Dendera. Denon was equally entranced by the Temple of Luxor, which was dedicated to Egypt’s supreme deity, Amun, during the reign of Amenophis III (1390‒1352 B.C.). His painting of the temple’s majestic entrance pylons, paired obelisks and 46-foot-high colossi of Ramesses II (1290‒1224 B.C.) preserves a scene that was soon irreparably altered. In 1836 one of the obelisks and two standing statues of Ramesses II were removed from the site and transported to Paris.