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Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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John Frederick Lewis, R.A.
LONDON 1804 - 1876 WALTON-ON-THAMES
A TURKISH SCHOOL IN THE VICINITY OF CAIRO - A STUDY
Watercolour over pencil, heightened with bodycolour and gum arabic, on two joined sheets of paper
657 by 555 mm
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Provenance

Sir Thomas Devitt, 1st Bt. (1839-1923);
his executor's sale, London, Christie's, 16 May 1924, lot 22, bt. Leggatt (17 gns.);
with The Leicester Galleries, London

Catalogue Note

John Frederick Lewis arrived in Cairo in 1841. He was to stay there for ten years and is considered, along with his near contemporary David Roberts, to be the most important British artist to visit, indeed live in the Middle East.

The watercolours and drawings that he made while there became the foundation of paintings that he exhibited after he returned to London. The present watercolour relates to two works: an oil, entitled A Turkish School in the Vicinity of Cairo, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1865 and a watercolour, of the same subject and date, which is now at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.1 There is another watercolour sketch linked to these works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.2

Lewis' intriguing title, which refers to a 'Turkish school', might reflect that Egypt, at that time, was nominally under the control of the Sultan of Turkey. When Lewis made his sketches, in the 1840s, there were still a number of Ottoman Turkish-speaking officials in Cairo, who presumably sent their children to such a school.

The present watercolour was once owned by Sir Thomas Devitt, 1st Bt., who was a ship-owner, a senior partner in the firm of Devitt and Moore, and a founder of the Nautical College, Pangbourne. 

We are grateful to Briony Llewellyn and Charles Newton for their help when cataloguing this lot.  

1. Victoria and Albert Museum (accession number: 68-1890)
2. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (accession number: 61.218.2)

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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London