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Watercolour - Temple of Sabooa -  Nubia

Temple of Sabooa - Nubia

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Abu Sunbul (painted)

  • Date:

    1824 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Catherwood, Frederick (painter)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil and watercolour, heightened with white, on grey-buff paper

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, Shell International and the Friends of the V&A

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case 89, shelf SCX, box 5

This drawing depicts the partly rock-cut Temple of Ramesses II at Sabua, which, when Lake Nasser was created in the 1960s, was moved four kilometers to the west of its original site. Catherwood was a well-travelled architectural and topographical draughtsman, and later a railway engineer. This is one of many drawings made during his first visit to Egypt, in 1823-24, in the company of Henry Westcar, a wealthy gentleman traveller, and two other architects, Henry Parke and Joseph John Scoles. Westcar's diary of their journey up the Nile to Wadi Halfa and back to Cairo recounts their adventures with youthful gusto. The Searight Collection also contains a large group of sketches made by Catherwood, and possibly his companions, with the assistance of a camera lucida, a drawing aid incorporating a prism through which the outline of an image is reflected on to the paper.

Catherwood returned to Egypt in 1832 to assist in excavations directed by Robert Hay of Linplum, and in 1833 he joined fellow artists, Francis Arundale and Joseph Bonomi, on a journey across Sinai to Jerusalem and on to Syria and Lebanon. In London his watercolours were used to make large panoramas. Between 1839 and 1842 he twice visited Central America with the explorer John Lloyd Stephens.

Physical description

Watercolour drawing

Place of Origin

Abu Sunbul (painted)


1824 (painted)


Catherwood, Frederick (painter)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil and watercolour, heightened with white, on grey-buff paper

Marks and inscriptions

Numbered 18; inscribed on the back with title and date Feby 10th


Height: 25.8 cm, Width: 36.7 cm

Object history note

According to Rodney Searight: - 'Bt Sotheby's (attributed to "Roberts") [12] Oct.1977 [201], £40'.

Historical context note

This shows the partly rock-cut Temple of Ramesses II, now moved four kilometers west of its original site to al-Sabu al Gadid. According to Westcar's journal (see notes to SD223), the party visited Amada on 10 February and Saboua on 11 February 1824.

Descriptive line

Watercolour, `Temple of Sabooa - Nubia' [Nubia: al-Sabu: Temple of Ramesses II], 1824, by Frederick Catherwood


Pencil; Watercolour; Paper; Watercolour


Watercolour drawing




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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