The five watercolours in the present lot are early representations of the Suez Canal, one of the great engineering feats of the nineteenth century. Planning for the canal was officially begun in 1854 when the French government entered into an agreement with the Egyptian viceroy and so formed the Suez Canal Company. Construction started in late 1861 and the canal was finally completed in November 1869. The British had always been opposed to the project, as they feared that it would be strategically advantageous for France. However, in 1875, they acquired a forty-four percent share in the company after the Egyptian government, who were in need of funds, disposed of its shares.