John Beasley Greene

John Beasley Greene (1832-1856), also John Beasly Greene, (1832 Le Havre, France – to 1856 Cairo, Egypt) was an Egyptologist and one of the earliest archaeological documentary photographers.

John Beasley Greene was the son of an American banker and lived in Paris. He was a student of the photographer Gustave Le Gray and a founding member of the Société Française de Photographie. He was one of the first archaeologists to use photography.

As a 21-year-old he traveled in 1853/54 in an extensive excursion to Upper Egypt and Nubia. From this journey he brought numerous paper novels, of which Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard published over 90 pictures under the title Le Nil: Monuments; Paysages; Explorations photographiques. In 1854/55 he returned to Egypt and published his photographs of the excavations of Medinet Habu in Thebes. In 1855 he was a member of an official French expedition in Algeria. At the end of 1856, Greene made his third and last voyage to Egypt. He was seriously ill in Cairo and died a few days later of an “unknown disease”, but probably not, as is often claimed, of tuberculosis.

Greene’s work can be divided into two areas: documentary photos and artistic landscapes.

The son of an American banker, Greene was born in Le Havre and then lived in at 10 rue de la Grange Bateliere in the 9th arrondissement of Paris.

His work combined two passions: the new technology of photography and the discovery of Ancient Egypt. With his father’s wealth, he was able to finance his first trip to Egypt in 1854.
He was a founding member of the Société française de photographie, founded on 15 November 1854.
In Algeria in late 1855 and early 1856 he photographed his excavation campaigns of the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania led by Louis-Adrien Berbrugger.

He left Egypt shortly afterwards and died of tuberculosis in Cairo at the age of 24.