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In the Citadel, Cairo, before The Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha
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Edwin Lord Weeks

American ( b.1849 - d.1903 )

In the Citadel, Cairo, before The Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha

  • Watercolour
  • Monogram lower right

Image size 8.3 inches x 5.3 inches ( 21cm x 13.5cm )
Frame size 13.6 inches x 10 inches ( 34.5cm x 25.5cm )

£1,795.00

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Available for sale from Big Sky Fine Art; this original painting by Edwin Lord Weeks dating from the mid 1870s.
The watercolour is presented and supplied in a sympathetic contemporary frame (which is shown in these photographs), mounted using conservation materials and behind premium glass with UV Protection greater than 70% (Artglass AR 70™).
This antique painting is in superb condition. It wants for nothing and is supplied ready to hang and display.
The watercolour is monogrammed lower right.

Edwin Lord Weeks was one of the most celebrated American Orientalists. He was a painter, illustrator, adventurer and author who lived an exciting and often dangerous life. In an age when many artists travelled in Europe and ‘the Orient” he ventured much further, lived amongst the people he painted and gained sustained international acclaim.

He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA in 1849. His parents were affluent spice and tea merchants who were able to finance his early interest in painting and travel. As a young man he visited the Florida Keys to draw and also travelled to Surinam in South Africa. On his return to Boston he painted history pictures and landscapes and it was clear where his talent lay.

Weeks went to study in Paris between 1869 or 1870 and 1871. He enrolled first at the Ecole de Beaux Arts under Jean- Léon Gèrôme but also studied in the studio of Léon Bonnat in Paris. By this time, he had already visited Morocco, Egypt, Palestine and Syria and he exhibited several paintings inspired by these journeys in his native city of Boston in 1874.

From the 1870s through to the 1890s Weeks travelled extensively throughout Spain, Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Persia and India. Some of his journeys were very dangerous and he wrote extensively about his adventures. He was one of the few Westerners to visit Rabat, Salé and Marrakech and at one time he nearly died from typhoid fever. His friend A.P. Close, a journalist and illustrator, who accompanied him on one of his early trips to the Holy Lands and Syria, died in Beirut in 1871 following a fever.

After this Weeks returned to Newtonville, where he opened a studio and married Frances Rollins Hale of Rollisonford, New Hampshire. The following year the couple joined the Scottish artist Robert Gavin on a trip to the Mediterranean and Morocco. It is known that Weeks spent a considerable time in Morocco between 1878 and 1880.

In 1880 Weeks returned to Paris and made that his home. He lived the rest of his life as an expatriate but continued to travel extensively. Between 1882 and 1893 he made three long trips to India, taking not only paints and sketchbooks but a camera with which he made one of the earliest records of some of the architecture and landscapes of the places he visited. He painted by day and developed his photographs at night. At one point he spent at least two years in India capturing the colourful street life in his paintings. These proved extremely popular with French and American collectors and became his particular speciality.

In 1892 Weeks set out on an extended journey through Turkey, Persia and India with the scholar Theodore Child. Weeks recorded his adventures on this trip and his impressions of the Middle East and Asia in a series of illustrated articles that appeared in Harper’s between 1893 and 1895 in book form as From the Black Sea through Persia and India (1896). In 1901 Scribner’s magazine published Week’s extensive account of his travels in Morocco in an article entitled “Two centuries of Moorish Art”.

Weeks enjoyed considerable success exhibiting his works. He showed two figure scenes at the Royal Academy in London in 1878 but after that date exhibited entirely in Paris, contributing to the annual Salon exhibitions. His Salon debut was in 1878 was with a painting of a Moroccan camel driver and he continued to show Moroccan subjects there for several years thereafter. He obtained an honourable mention at the Salon of 1884, a third-class medal in 1889 and a gold medal at the Paris Exhibition, 1900. He became a member of the Société des Artistes Français.

During the 1890s Weeks achieved international recognition as both an artist and author. In 1896 he was made a Knight of the French Legion of Honour and in 1898 he became an officer of the Order of St. Michael of Bavaria.

Weeks died at his Paris residence in November 1903 aged 54, possible from an illness contracted in India. Two years after his untimely death in 1903, his widow sold the contents of his Paris studio and some 277 paintings and sketches at auction in New York.
His works can be found today in many of the leading American museums and galleries as well as the Musée du Louvre and Musée d’Orsy in Paris.

© Big Sky Fine Art

This original watercolour painting by Edwin Lord Weeks depicts a scene from the interior of the Citadel of Cairo at the end of the 19th century. The Citadel of Saladin, as it is also known, is the largest fortification in the Middle East and one of the most iconic monuments in Islamic Cairo. A citadel is a fortified area of a town or city and this one was built by Salah ad-Din in medieval times as an Islamic fortification against Crusaders. It was further developed by subsequent Egyptian rulers, being the seat of government in Egypt and the residence of its rulers for nearly 700 years from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It is on a high elevation point, towering over Cairo. In the middle of the scene we see a dromedary camel with a rider on its back and another man walking in front. There are various other people, all in traditional Arab dress, some sitting in groups, some going about their business. The white buildings in the foreground have basic wooden and cloth shades over their windows and the pale blue hazy sky above tells us that it is very hot. In the background we see the Alabaster Mosque, or Great Mosque of Muhammed Ali Pasha, commissioned by Muhammed Ali Pasha between 1830 and 1848 in memory of his oldest son. The Mosque was the largest to be built in the first half of the 19th century and is the most visible mosque in Cairo. The overall scene in this image is of everyday life set against the backdrop of these magnificent buildings and all the history they evoke.

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