Lot 9
  • 9

Raphael von Ambros

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Raphael von Ambros
  • Merchant before the Sabil of Nafisa al-Bayda, Cairo
  • signed and dated R Ambros. Paris 90 lower right
  • oil on panel
  • 46 by 31cm., 18 by 12¼in.


Sale: Christie's, London, 31 May 2012, lot 184

Catalogue Note

The Sabil, or public water tap, of Nafisa al-Bayda, is located in the commercial district close to Bab Zuweila in al-Sukariyya, or Sugar Street. It was commissioned in 1796 by Nafisa al-Bayda, the wife of Murad Bey, a Mamluk who, in 1784, became the leader of the resistance against Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. Nafisa was a woman of beauty, wealth, culture, and charity, and became a symbol of women's participation in political life. During the resistance, she played a major role as intermediary between Murad and Napoleon.The location of the sabil was cleverly chosen. Among the masterpieces of late Ottoman architecture in Cairo, it remains visible to anyone entering the city from the south (fig. 1). It has always attracted the attention of travellers, writers and visitors alike. The slim rounded façade adorned with marble columns, geometric motifs masterfully carved on its limestone walls, and elaborate wooden eaves is not only visually attractive, but reveals much about the taste of its founder.