Edward Lear, A felucca on the Nile, Abu Simbel in the distance, Egypt.
Signed with monogram and dated ‘1884’ (lower right) and inscribed and dated ‘Ipsam [?] Feby 9 1867’ (lower left). Watercolour heightened with white. 3 ¾ x 7 ¼ in. (9.5 x 18.4 cm.)
In this distant view of Abu Simbel Lear concentrated on the way the sculptures relate to their landscape and the overall topography of the area. Indeed in his diary entry for 9 February Lear wrote ‘on deck till 1.30. Last memorials of Abou Simbl [sic] -(the position of which I certainly never saw given in any drawing – tho of near views many)’. There is an on-the-spot sketch of the same subject, from almost the same viewpoint, but without the felucca, in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven.
This watercolour is of particular interest given that between 1964 and 1968 the entire temple complex was dismantled brick by brick and reassembled on the top of the cliffs, in order to save it from being destroyed by the Aswan High Dam.