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This is part of a group of 611 photographs which once belonged to John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). The collection was presented to the Victoria and Albert Museum by the painter’s sisters, Emily Sargent and Violet Sargent Ormond, in August 1925, shortly after his death. Two months before, the sisters had donated a watercolour by the artist (Inv. no. P.2-1921), and they later gifted a tapestry-covered chair (Inv. no. W.39-1926).
The photographs reflect Sargent’s travelling lifestyle and breadth of artistic interests. The majority show architecture, sculpture and other art objects from a great variety of countries including Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, the United States and India. Sargent visited some of these countries in order to conduct research for The Triumph of Religion, his major mural project in the Boston Public Library (1890-1916). Although Sargent is known to have been an amateur photographer, it appears that most of the donated photographs were probably purchased from local professional photographers.
At the time of the donation, the collection was valued as an educational resource; the Museum wrote to thank the sisters for the photographs, which they affirmed would “prove very useful in the Library Photograph Collection, and the Sculpture Department,” and they were soon separated and classified geographically according to their content.
Object history note
This photograph is one of a group belonging to the painter John Singer Sargent, which were presented to the museum by his sister Emily after his death.
Photograph depicting the vestibule of the Temple of Isis, Philae, Egypt
Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection