Dec 2, 2015

The Temple of Edfu: The Door of the Pylon

The Temple of Edfu: The Door of the Pylon


John Frederick Lewis

(British, 1805–1876)

Watercolor (wash and point of brush work) and gouache and graphite

Support: Sturdy weight wove tan paper

Sheet: 35.5 x 43.3 cm (14 x 17 1/16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 2015.73



This notable recent acquisition is the work of John Frederick Lewis, who moved to Cairo in 1841 and stayed for almost a decade. He made this drawing on an expedition up the Nile that he took with his wife in 1849–50, around the same time that the first photographers arrived in Egypt. At that time,the temple complex at Edfu was buried to a depth of almost 40 feet. Lewis’s watercolor carefully renders the ruins and records the hieroglyphic inscription,but transcends archaeological description to evoke the thrill of exploration and discovery.Photographers,influenced by painters such as David Roberts and Lewis, often chose similar viewpoints and framing for their depictions.

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