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Edward Lear, 1812–1888, British

Philae, Egypt

Oil on canvas
Support (PTG): 10 13/16 x 21 inches (27.5 x 53.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
buildings | island | landscape | mountains | river | rocks (landforms)
Associated Places:
Africa | Egypt | Nile | Philae | Temple of Isis
On view in the galleries
IIIF Manifest:

Edward Lear, a prolific artist, author, and poet, traveled throughout the Mediterranean, the Near East, and South Asia during the course of his long career. In 1853 he made a second trip to Egypt and completed this painting of the ancient Temple of Isis, visible across the Nile, in London almost nine years after returning home. He was struck by the ruins of several temples on Philae and declared it “more like a real fairy island than anything else I can compare it to.” Lear made copious sketches of such views while on tour, capturing scenes on the spot in his sketchbooks and then working them up with pen and ink and watercolor back in the studio. These enhanced sketches were shown to potential patrons in the hope of generating commissions for larger-scale versions in watercolor or oil.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Malcolm Cormack, A Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 144-145, N590.2 A83 (YCBA)

Colleen Manassa, Echoes of Egypt, conjuring the land of the pharaohs, an exhibition at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, April 13, 2013 through January 4, 2014 , Peabody Museum of Natural History, 2013, p. vi, DT61 .E31 2013 (YCBA)

The lure of the east : British Orientalist painting: wall labels, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2008, p.[ 87], V 2577 (YCBA) V 2577

The lure of the East, British orientalist painting, 1830-1925 , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2008, pp. 14, 16, V 1879 (YCBA)

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