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Egypt: Cairo, 1870

Egypt: Cairo, 1870

A study of Cairo in oil by Louis Comfort Tiffany, one of the greatest Art Nouveau painters

Bibek Bhattacharya
June 03 , 2016
01 Min Read

One of the greatest Art Nouveau painters was the New Yorker Louis Comfort Tiffany. Although he’s best known for his masterful stained glass works and for his artists’ group, the Associated Artists of America, his original medium was oils. As a young man, and before his interest in glassmaking began in 1875, Tiffany had travelled extensively in Europe, visiting ateliers and studios of noted Orientalist art­ists such as Léon-Adolphe-Auguste Belly. In 1870, he travelled through northern Africa, from Egypt to Morocco with his friend and fellow painter R. Swain Gifford. The Islamic cultures, their architecture and art was to form a life-long influence on the painter. The most immediate influence was seen in Tiffany’s oil paintings, which he exhibited in New York.

This study of Cairo exemplifies Tiffany’s wonder and admiration for a culture that was so alien to him. Titled On the Way between Old and New Cairo, the magnificent dome and minarets of the Ottoman-style Citadel Mosque of Mohammad Ali Pasha dominate the scene, as it still does today. This mosque remains the most prominent building on the Cairo skyline, and Tiffany’s depiction of the building, alongside Mameluk tombs of the Cairo Ne­cropolis and the caravan is a magnificent evocation of a particular place and time.


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