Not currently on display at the V&A

A room in the house of Shayk Sadat, Cairo

Watercolour
ca. 1875 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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 `qaah' or principal room in the women's apartments of the Bayt al-Sadat, a fine house that fortunately still exists near the Sharia al-Gammamiz in Cairo. 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 Islamic monuments of Cairo. He also travelled in Portugal, Spain and Morocco, as well in Japan where he studied and painted traditional Japanese interiors.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleKaah in the Harem of Sheykh Sadat, Cairo (assigned by artist)
Materials and Techniques
Bodycolour, on paper stretched round panel
Brief Description
A Room In The House of Shayk Sadat, Cairo, about 1875, by Frank Dillon
Physical Description
Watercolour drawing of an interior of a Cairo house.
Dimensions
  • Unframed height: 74.5cm
  • Unframed width: 58.5cm
  • Frame height: 850mm
  • Frame width: 695mm
  • Frame depth: 65mm
Dimensions checked: Measured; 21/04/1999 by LH/KL
Styles
Gallery Label
British Galleries: This painting represents the principal room in the women's apartments of the Bayt al-Sadat, a fine house that still exists in Cairo. The artist campaigned to preserve the domestic architecture and interiors of Cairo, recording them in careful, accurate paintings.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, Shell International and the Friends of the V&A
Object history
According to Rodney Searight: - 'Bt Sotheby's Belgravia, Nov.7th 1972 , 25 (via Holder)'.
Historical context
The title derives from an engraving in Ebers, Vol.II, [1879], p.84; this is a view of the same room and is after a watercolour (VAM, DPD, 862-1900). This, or a version, possibly The Harem of a Wealthy Arab, Cairo or Hareem of Sheikh Sadat, Dudley Gallery, 1875 (272) and 1876 (70). Further views of the same house are VAM, DPD, 855, 856 & 859-1900 (all three dated 1873) and E.2877 & E.2878-1909. Dillon exhibited several views of Cairo houses at the RA, RI and Dudley Gallery: see Searight Archive. The Bayt al Sadat, off the Sharia al Gammamiz, was mentioned in Murray's Handbook for Egypt (1880 edn., p.164); it is still extant and has undergone restoration. SD329-333 derive from the third and fourth of Dillon's visits to Cairo, when he became especially interested in its Islamic architecture. He made a series of watercolours of three Mamluk style houses, the bayts of Radwan Bay (SD331), Shaykh al Sadat (SD332) and the Mufti, Shaykh al Mahdi, including eleven acquired by the South Kensington Museum from Bryan Donkin, the artist's son in law, in 1900 (VAM, DPD, 852 862 1900; see R.P's 84814). For further details of the houses, see B. Maury, A. Raymond,

J. Revault & M. Zakariya, Palais et Maisons du Caire, Vol.I, Epoque Mamelouke, Vol.II, Epoque Ottomane, Paris, 1982 & 1983. See also B. Llewellyn, 'Frank Dillon and Victorian pictures of old Cairo houses', Ur, 3 1984, pp.3 10; Searight Archive.
Places Depicted
Summary
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 `qaah' or principal room in the women's apartments of the Bayt al-Sadat, a fine house that fortunately still exists near the Sharia al-Gammamiz in Cairo. 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 Islamic monuments of Cairo. He also travelled in Portugal, Spain and Morocco, as well in Japan where he studied and painted traditional Japanese interiors.
Bibliographic References
  • Tromans, Nicholas (Ed.), The Lure of the East : British Orientalist Painting. Tate, London, 2008Fig.132
  • Arnhold, Hermann (ed.), Orte der Sehnsucht Mit Künstlern auf Reisen, Regensburg : Schnell & Steiner ; Münster : LWL-Landesmuseum für Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte, 2008no.190
  • Labrusse, Remi. Islamophilie. L'Europe moderne et les arts de l'Islam. Lyon : Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, 201168
  • Searight, Rodney and Scarce, Jennifer M., A Middle Eastern journey : artists on their travels from the collection of Rodney Searight, Talbot Rice Art Centre, 1980
  • Conner, Patrick (ed). The Inspiration of Egypt : its influence on British artists, travellers, and designers, 1700-1900. Brighton Borough Council, Brighton, 1983
  • Treasures for the Nation : Conserving our Heritage. London, British Museum Publications, 1988
  • p. 47Carol Jacobi and Hope Kingsley ; with contributions by Elizabeth Jacklin.‎ Painting with light : art and photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the modern ageLondon : Tate Publishing, 2016.‎ ISBN: 9781849764025
Collection
Accession Number
SD.332

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMarch 27, 2003
Record URL