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The Watts Gallery is hosting an exhibition dedicated to exploring the life and art of the Victorian Orientalist artist John Frederick Lewis (1804–1876).
Between 1827 and 1840 Lewis made numerous trips to Europe, travelling through Spain and Italy. From 1840, he travelled to Constantinople and on to Cairo in 1841 where he remained, detached from the London art scene, for a decade. Of all of the European artists to make the Eastern pilgrimage in the nineteenth century, Lewis is unique in staying for such a prolonged period. He settled in the Islamic quarters of Cairo where he lived in a traditional upper-class house, which would provide the backdrop for many compositions. During this period, Lewis created an array of detailed and vivid sketches that convey his fascination in the architecture, light and exoticism of the region. When Lewis returned to London in 1851 he brought with him a substantial body of work that would provide a wealth of inspiration for the rest of his artistic career.
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