Term used to describe the artists who travelled to the Middle East during the Victorian era in search of new and exotic subjects

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  • John Frederick Lewis, 'The Siesta' 1876

    John Frederick Lewis
    The Siesta 1876
    Oil on canvas
    support: 886 x 1111 mm frame: 1245 x 1470 x 90 mm
    Purchased 1921

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  • Sir David Wilkie, 'His Highness Muhemed Ali, Pacha of Egypt' 1841

    Sir David Wilkie
    His Highness Muhemed Ali, Pacha of Egypt 1841
    Oil on board
    support: 610 x 508 mm
    Bequeathed by the Earl of Effingham 1927

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  • Thomas Seddon, 'Jerusalem and the Valley of Jehoshaphat from the Hill of Evil Counsel' 1854-5

    Thomas Seddon
    Jerusalem and the Valley of Jehoshaphat from the Hill of Evil Counsel 1854-5
    Oil on canvas
    frame: 870 x 1030 x 100 mm support: 673 x 832 mm
    Presented by subscribers 1857

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The accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 coincided with the beginning of the great age of rail and steamship travel. Artists from Britain were soon spreading across the world in search of new and exotic subjects. Those who went to the Middle East became known as orientalists.

The lead figure was John Frederick Lewis who spent thirteen years there from 1838, followed by David Roberts, William Müller and Sir David Wilkie. Later contributors include the Pre-Raphaelites, William Holman Hunt and Thomas Seddon, who travelled together to Palestine 1854–6. Hunt later returned there in 1869–72, 1875–8 and 1892.