Display caption

The artist Edward Lear said of Lewis’s Near Eastern subjects ‘There never have been, and there never will be, any works depicting Oriental life more truly beautiful and excellent’.A trip to Spain in the early 1830s kindled Lewis’s interest in ‘exotic’ lands, and in 1841 he settled in Cairo for ten years. On his return to England he earned a reputation for images of the Near East painted in watercolour or oils. Characterised by their bright colours and attention to detail, they often show languid figures, especially women in harems, who are often given western features.

May 2007