The Hall Built by Tathmosis III in the Great Temple of Anom Karnak, Luxor watercolour
Provenance Sir Robert Rawlinson, K.C.B., C.E Anonymous sale, Christie's, 20 June 1978, lot 146 The Fine Art Society, London, December 1980 with Arader Galleries, New York
The exotic and romantic vision propagated by authors and artists of the 19th century saw a renewal of European interest in the Near East. The fascination with ancient customs and practices such as embalming as well as the discovery of mysterious archaeological sights was also combined with a desire for empire.
In 1798 Napoleon's invasion of Egypt a military disaster, triumphed in its regard to cartographic and natural history discovery. By 1801 the French had been forced to withdraw from the country which was now, under the terms of The Treaty of Alexandria, to be occupied by the British for the next six years.
It was during this time that the Consul General to Egypt, Henry Salt, was urged by British Museum trustee Sir Joseph Banks, to use Britain's prominent position to fill the national collection. Such discoveries as the Rosetta Stone spurred British interest and drew more and more tourists to London.
It was against this cultural backdrop that Dadd was working and decided to travel to Egypt. Together with fellow artist Sir Thomas Phillips, Dadd left London in July 1842, reaching Alexandria on 28 November of the same year.
The present lot was executed during the pair's visit to Thebes between 6 and 13 January 1843. Of the architecture he saw there, Dadd wrote to the artist David Roberts, 'At Carnac I was more astonished than even at the Pyramids...the mind is at once impressed with the idea of immense size and eternal strength.' It is these feelings that Dadd conveys so well here as the two figures in the middle-ground are dwarfed by the enormous yet serine columns they stand before.
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