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Watercolour - Town & Harbor of Cosire Red Sea
  • Town & Harbor of Cosire Red Sea
    Moresby, Robert Captain, born 1795 - died 1854
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Town & Harbor of Cosire Red Sea

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (painted)

  • Date:

    1829-1834 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Moresby, Robert Captain, born 1795 - died 1854 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ink and watercolour

  • 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 10

The development of the steamship in the early nineteenth century meant that the Red Sea became navigable at all seasons, and made possible the establishment of the so-called Overland Route between England and India, via Egypt. Marine surveys were carried out to determine the best routes and the most convenient coaling stations for steamers along the coasts of the Red Sea, and the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba. Moresby was Commander of the East India Company's ship Palinurus, which took part in one of these surveys between 1829 and 1834. Their findings were published by the East India Company in Sailing Directions for the Red Sea (1841), where Qusayr is described as containing about 2,000 inhabitants. Here travellers, instead of sailing on up to Suez, could disembark and continue their journey overland across the desert to the Nile and thence to Cairo.

Seven other watercolours done by Moresby during this survey are in the Searight Collection (with five more at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich). Though probably trained as a draughtsman at a naval academy, his compositions pay little regard to pictorial convention and are refreshingly idiosyncratic.

Physical description

Watercolour drawing

Place of Origin

Egypt (painted)


1829-1834 (painted)


Moresby, Robert Captain, born 1795 - died 1854 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Ink and watercolour

Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed on the back with title and some Passengers land here from the steamers who wish to visit Thebes. and No. 17 and on a label formerly attached to the back "Town and Anchorage of Cosire on the Coast of Egypt, here passengers from the Indian Steamers land who wish to visit Thebes" Red Sea by Captn. Robert Moresby the Hon'ble E.I.Co'y's Navy circa 1830


Height: 26.2 cm, Width: 39.2 cm

Object history note

According to Rodney Searight: - `Bt. fr. Mrs. Schidlof. Dec. 1966 [with one other] £50' [i.e. SD.677-683]

Historical context note

Reproduced with variations in F.R. Chesney, A Narrative of the Euphrates Expedition, 1868, facing p.5; lithograph by T. Picken. SD.677-684 were done during Moresby's Red Sea survey, 1829-34. Five further drawings from this series are in the National Maritime Museum, see Searight Archive. See T. Elwon & R. Moresby, Sailing Directions for the Red Sea, 1841, pp.195-7.

Descriptive line

Watercolour, `Town & Harbor of Cosire [Quseir] Red Sea', 1829-1834, by Captain Robert Moresby

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Searight, Rodney. The Middle East : watercolours and drawings by British and foreign artists and travellers, 1750-1900, from the collection of Rodney Searight, Esq. London, 1971
Conner, Patrick (ed). The Inspiration of Egypt : its influence on British artists, travellers, and designers, 1700-1900 . Brighton Borough Council, Brighton, 1983




Watercolour drawing

Subjects depicted





Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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