Le roman de la momie (The Story of the Mummy) was written by the prolific French novelist Théophile Gautier, and first published from March to May 1857 in serial form in Le Moniteur Universel, then in 1858 in book form by Hachette. Egyptology was all the rage at the time, and Gautier was never one to miss out on a trend.
It is a good tale. Not far from the Nile, in the valley of Biban-el-Molouk, a young English aristocrat, Lord Evandale, and a German Egyptologist, Doctor Rumphius, discover a previously undiscovered tomb thanks to the help of a Greek crook named Argyropoulos. For more than 3,500 years no one has set foot in the burial chamber, in which rests an unopened sarcophagus. When the heavy black basalt lid is opened, the two men find to their amazement the perfectly preserved mummy of a young woman of magnificent beauty named Tahoser. After the discovery of this mummy, the novel tells the story of Tahoser and her many loves, as described by the inscriptions in the tomb.
Milivoj Uzelac was commissioned to make the most of the story for this illustrated edition of Le roman de la momie, producing both coloured plates and a suite of drawings. They show him to be the master of the ‘perfect’ Egyptian body; there is no doubt that he enjoyed the challenge.
Le roman de la momie was published by the Paris publisher Eryx in a limited numbered edition of 695 copies.