John Frederick Lewis

The Siesta

1876

In Tate Britain
Artist
John Frederick Lewis 1805–1876
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 886 x 1111 mm
frame: 1245 x 1470 x 90 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1921
Reference
N03594

Display caption

Lewis lived in Cairo between 1842 and 1851. While in the Egyptian capital he reportedly lived in extreme luxury. After he returned to Britain he continued to paint Egyptian scenes, such this sun-drenched domestic interior. Lewis’s British wife, Marian, modelled as the sleeping woman. Victorian portrayals of Arab-Islamic life often characterise it as more decadent, mysterious and sensual than life in Europe. Such representations have been criticised as serving western European viewers’ desire for superiority and control over the Middle East.

Gallery label, August 2018

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