Arab School

John Frederick Lewis British

Not on view

Lewis lived in Cairo for a decade, adopting local dress and customs and making drawings that record aspects of Egyptian life. He took this sheet back to London in 1851 and used it to develop an exhibited watercolor, Interior of a School, Cairo (1865, Victoria and Albert Museum). The artist responds to the routine of a Qur'an classroom, centering his sketch on a boy who prepares to recite for a bearded Hoja or teacher. Lewis describes faces and turbans, but indicates the setting broadly and uses the brown paper–now darkened–to suggest unadorned walls and floor, and to provide a base for quickly brushed costume elements and wood grain of the teacher's desk. In contrast to the artist's elaborately detailed finished watercolors, this study demonstrates his rapid, informal use of the medium.

Arab School, John Frederick Lewis (British, London 1804–1876 Walton-on-Thames), Watercolor and  gouache (bodycolor) over black chalk on brownish paper

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