William James Müller

Street in a Near Eastern Town


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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
William James Müller 1812–1845
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 247 × 145 mm
Presented by Lady Weston as part of the Sir Joseph Weston Gift 1908

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Müller was one of the first British artists to go to Egypt, travelling there in 1838–9. He wrote that ‘of all the spots I had ever seen for the artist’ this sort of street scene ‘would prove the most fertile for his pencil’.

The Islamic world had long fascinated Western audiences, though they had generally been satisfied with recycled fantasies. Müller’s sketch represents a new, eye-witness approach. By the late 1830s biblical archaeology, and an escalation of European diplomatic and military activity in the area, fuelled demand for more convincing documentary images of the Middle East.

Gallery label, September 2004

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