The development of a major cigarette industry in Egypt in the late nineteenth century was unexpected, given that Egypt generally exported raw materials and imported manufactured goods, that Egyptian-grown tobacco was generally of poor quality, and that the cultivation and processing of tobacco in Egypt and other peripheral Ottoman provinces, was banned as part of a state tobacco monopoly. However, tobacco traders from across the regions of the Ottoman Empire moved to Cairo to take advantage of a loophole in the law, namely that, although part of the Ottoman Empire, Egypt was outside the tobacco monopoly as a result of its de facto occupation by the British.
Indeed, after British troops began being stationed in Egypt in 1882, British officers developed a taste for the Egyptian cigarettes and they were soon being exported to the United Kingdom. Gianaclis and other Greek cigarette makers including Ioannis Kyriazis of Kyriazi frères successfully produced and exported cigarettes using imported Turkish tobacco to meet the growing world demand for cigarettes in the closing decades of the nineteenth century.
Egyptian cigarettes made by Gianaclis and others became so popular in Europe and the United States that they inspired a large number of what were, in effect, locally produced counterfeits. Among these was the American Camel brand, established in 1913, which used on its packet three Egyptian motifs: the camel, the pyramids, and a palm tree.
A pupil of Hans Makart (1840-1884) at the Vienna Academy, Raphael von Ambros studied alongside fellow Vienna-trained Orientalist painters as Ludwig Deutsch and Rudolf Ernst. Von Ambros began exhibiting his work at the Paris Salon from 1887 where, like Ernst and Deutsch, he found a ready market for his Egyptian street scenes. The high degree of verisimilitude in his paintings resulted not only from his meticulous style, but from the many sketches and photographs taken on the spot during his travels, which he used to work up his finished compositions.
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