Semester of Graduation

Summer 2019


Master of Arts (MA)


Art History

Document Type



This thesis examines the life of Léon-Jean-Joseph Dubois (1780-1846), a French engraver, antiquarian, conservator, and restorer of antiquities. Dubois lived in Paris during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, in an era when Ancient Egyptian art and history became very popular. His life was overshadowed by the career of his friend Jean-François Champollion, the “Father” of Egyptology, who laid the foundations for the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphics in 1822. This thesis is the first to study Dubois, and the focus of this study will be on his life, his publications, his art, his relationships with other antiquarians, his museum work, and his involvement with the early days of Egyptology, immediately before and after the deciphering of hieroglyphics. Dubois was a friend of Champollion, and contributed to Champollion’s scholarship in Egyptology and to his leadership of the Egyptian department at the Louvre. Champollion brought Dubois to the museum in 1826, and Dubois stayed at the Louvre for twenty years, until his death in 1846. He also illustrated in 1823 one of Champollion’s books, Panthéon égyptien, collection des personnages mythologiques de l’ancienne Égypte with lithographs. Those illustrations stand out for their vibrant representations of Egyptian deities, as Europeans understood them in the early nineteenth century. Little has been written about Dubois since his death. Save for his auction catalogues, his work as an artist and antiquarian has almost all been ignored or lost. His auction catalogues, written by Dubois himself, describe statues, vases, art, and jewelry in great detail. Dubois wrote his own books on sculptures and on Egyptian scarabs, Choix de pierres gravées antiques, égyptiennes et persannes in 1817 and Lettre de M J. J. Dubois sur une inscription grecque in 1843. Despite the variety of his activities, Dubois was described at his death primarily as an excellent draftsman. In the obituary of Dubois printed in an archaeological review, he was explicitly denied the status of a scholar. This thesis, however, will establish that he was a scholar, dedicated to the description, preservation and restoration of antiquities.

Committee Chair

Spieth, Darius