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‘A vision of the “Arabian Nights” character’: Two sightings of John Frederick Lewis in Cairo by Guy Philipps

This article considers two representations of the painter John Frederick Lewis in Cairo in the 1840s, one by W. M. Thackeray and one by the artist himself. Thackeray’s comedically fictionalised account portrayed Lewis living a life of eroticised pleasure owing more to the ‘Arabian Nights’ than to reality. That tone was taken up by the reviewers of Lewis’s The Hhareem, who unanimously treated the picture as an Orientalist fantasy rather than an ethnographically accurate account of contemporary Cairo; it is argued that this reception caused Lewis to seek to reshape public understanding of the work when it was next exhibited.

Date created: 
Monday, March 23, 2020
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‘A vision of the “Arabian Nights” character’: Two sightings of John Frederick Lewis in Cairo by Guy Philipps, All rights reserved.
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