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Muhemet Ali (1769–1849) became the pasha (governor), of Egypt in 1805, founding the dynasty that ruled until 1959. Wilkie met him when he went to Egypt in 1841 to study the people and landscape of the Near East for a series of biblical subjects. These were never realised, as he died on the journey home.This portrait presents the pasha as an impressive figure, dressed in rich fabrics with a long, curved sword at his side. His strength of character is underlined by his resolute expression and his hands gripping the arms of the chair.

May 2007