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Watercolour - The House of Radwan Bey
  • The House of Radwan Bey
    Dillon, Frank RI, born 1823 - died 1909
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The House of Radwan Bey

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Cairo (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1875 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dillon, Frank RI, born 1823 - died 1909 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gouache on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case WD, shelf 63, box A

Paintings illustrating exotic interiors became more frequent in the 19th century. British architects studied architecture outside Europe as they searched for ideas for a new building style. These traditional forms were also threatened with obliteration by `the march of progress' and drawings had to be made to record them before they were destroyed.

This painting represents the `mandarah' or principal reception room in the `Bayt' or house of Radwan Bay in Cairo. This fine house fortunately still exists, and is one of several structures built by Radwan Bay in the 17th century around the Sharia al-Khiyyamiyyah, near the Bab Zuwaylah. In his desire to preserve the exotic domestic architecture of Cairo, particularly the interiors, Dillon painted accurate pictures of them as a record and as a kind of advertisement for his campaign. He included their inhabitants in appropriate costume, to give scale and to make them more appealing.

Frank Dillon (1823-1909) was part of the circle that had surrounded Owen Jones. Like many of those design reformers he wished to encourage interest in the decorative art and architecture of other cultures. He was actively concerned with efforts to preserve the Islamic monuments of Cairo. He also travelled in Portugal, Spain and Morocco, as well in Japan where he studied and painted traditional Japanese interiors.

Physical description

Interior of a house, containg two figures and stained glass in the far wall.

Place of Origin

Cairo (painted)


ca. 1875 (painted)


Dillon, Frank RI, born 1823 - died 1909 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Gouache on paper


Height: 43.9 cm unmounted, Width: 29.7 cm unmounted

Descriptive line

Watercolour, 'House of Radwan Bey', by Frank Dillon.

Labels and date

This painting represents the 'mandarah' or principal reception room in the house of Radwan Bay, a wealthy official of the 17th century. The artist campaigned to preserve the domestic architecture and interiors of Cairo, recording them in careful, accurate paintings. This fine house fortunately still exists. [07/06/2006]





Subjects depicted

Interior; Stained glass


Paintings; Africa; Architecture; Black History; British Galleries; Interiors; Stained Glass


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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