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Excerpt from The Art of the Saracens in Egypt

In this account of the Egyptian development of Saracenic art, I have worked an almost unexplored vein. The only previous attempt to describe the art of Cairo, as a whole, is M. Prisse d’avennes’ l’art Ambe, a magnifi ent work, unapproached in its coloured illustrations; but its volume of text is of slight value. M. Prisse, who was not in a position to consult the Arabic historians, or to decipher the inscriptions which so often determine the date of an object of Saracenic art, is naturally an uncertain guide when it is a question of anything beyond draughtsmanship. We must not trust his facts; but for his plates we cannot be too grate ful. Coste’s work, the Monument: c’u Caz’re, deserves all credit as the first of its kind, but here again the letter press is of no scientific value, and even the drawings exhibit an imaginative power, which, however admirable it may be in the creation of Works of art, is not desirable in their reproduction. M. Bourgoin’s Les Arts Arabes, and the smaller Elements, are finely illustrated, but their text is occupied almost entirely with a minute examina tion of the principle of geometrical ornament in Sara cenic decoration, for which there is no better authority.

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