About this artwork

Melville was one of the finest British water-colourists. Between 1881 and 1882, he travelled extensively in the middle east, staying in Cairo, before travelling by steamer to Karachi and back through the Persian Gulf and up the River Tigris to Baghdad, before returning overland to Constantinople. Melville is said to have been detained for three weeks by a local ruler, who suspected him of espionage, an experience which may have inspired this work. Melville superbly evoked intense heat and stillness. His bold use of empty space created a feeling of heightened suspense and anticipation. The composition shows the influence of earlier Orientalist painters such as Alberto Pasini and Mariano Fortuny.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
    Arthur MelvilleScottish (1855 - 1904)
  • title:
    Waiting for the Sultan
  • date created:
    Dated 1891
  • materials:
    Watercolour on paper
  • measurements:
    53.30 x 75.70 cm (sight)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Dr John Kirkhope Bequest 1920
  • accession number:
    D NG 1485
  • gallery:
  • artwork photographed by:
    Antonia Reeve
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Arthur Melville

Arthur Melville

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