Empire coffee set with Egyptian decor

Empire coffee set with Egyptian decor, Manufacture Giustiniani, Naples, Italy, around 1820.
Courtesy of Johann Jacobs Museum

A lasting triumph of Napoleon’s Egypt campaign was the deciphering of hieroglyphs. The Neapolitan porcelain artist, however, shows no particular interest in legible content. He is satisfied with the mere appearance of meaning. The face of the sphinx is puzzling because it bears the strict features of a white bourgeois patriarch.