STEAMERS ON THE NILE / THEWFIKIEH NAVIGATION COMPANY.
Gorgeous Victorian travel poster for the Egyptian Thewfikieh Navigation Company’s Nile Cruises.
This fabulous commercial poster for an iconic ‘cruise on the Nile’ is not only an evocative encapsulation of Egyptian travel at the turn of the century but also a small miracle of survival. Posters such as this were produced in great numbers at the time, but usually on low-quality paper and then placed in positions of extreme exposure. It is consequently very rare that intact examples of these distinctive and sometimes idiosyncratic pieces of cultural history come to market. Egypt, of course, was a decisive leg of any serious ‘Grand Tour,’ and many young British aristocrats and their peers would spend months exploring the Oriental bazaars and Pharaonic temples of this ancient land.
Produced towards the end of the Victorian travel craze era, this vivacious poster reflects just how popular destinations like Egypt had become at this stage. It is a true precursor to the modern tourist industry and indirectly a product of Britain’s imperial aspirations in North Africa and the Middle East. Much like today, the cruises offered the incredible experience of traveling up the Nile from Cairo in the north to the First Cataract near Aswan in the south. Along the way, travelers were treated to one stunning vestige of Antiquity after another, often returning home with a completely new appreciation of our most archaic past.
The poster was printed as a color lithograph and is a vibrant and informative advertisement for 16 and 21-day trips up the Nile. Among the countless famous locations on show, the poster includes the Sphinx at Giza, temples and great pylons in Luxor, the Nilotic island of Elephantine, and a depiction of the steamer itself.
In producing this exciting poster, the Thewfikieh Company targeted a wealthy and eager British market, particularly a class of enfranchised young men and women who still departed on the type of ‘Grand Tour’ similar to that of their fathers and grandfathers. The poster highlights essential elements of modern travel, like luxurious rooms and salons illuminated by electricity. Nevertheless, it is clear that the market for these kinds of trips was no longer limited to the aristocracy. In addition to a steamer’s many comfort condiments, one of the messages highlighted in bold red is that the Thewfikieh Company sported the lowest fares.
Repaired tears, creases and restoration at edges and along vertical and horizontal folds; small replaced loss at top edge; pin holes in corners; minor staining at edges; gold ink overprint in right image.