Bazaar at Cairo

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Bazaar at Cairo
John Frederick Lewis lived in Cairo throughout the 1840s. Lewis was regarded as the preeminent British Orientalist painter after David Roberts, the first professional British artist to travel independently to the Middle East. Like many British Orientalists, Lewis tried to translate the genre painting, the depiction of everyday life, which was fundamental to British art in the nineteenth century to the Middle East. He based his work on firsthand observations like this study of the Bazaar. His work shows a strong fascination with the contemporary Egyptian culture. This is in contrast to Roberts who has been criticised for being more concerned with the East’s ancient remains rather than its contemporary population.

Glossary Open


Orientalism in western art is the study and depiction of Near-Eastern societies, cultures, and peoples. It can also refer to the imitation of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists. Interest in the Orient flourished in the nineteenth century, and attracted painters from across Europe. This was partly aided by Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, which had opened up the area and provided greater opportunities for travel. The Near East provided a rich array of subject matter for artists and was generally viewed as exotic; it allowed them to depict erotic scenes such as harems, but also led to a review of how biblical scenes were depicted. More artists began to interpret biblical stories with regard to their original setting.



  • Acc. No. D 3604
  • Medium Pencil and watercolour on paper
  • Size 54.90 x 38.10 cm
  • Credit Purchased 1911