Hypostyle Hall, Temple of Isis, Philae

Frederick Arthur Bridgman (American, 1847-1928), 1874
Watercolor and pencil
Egyptian Purchase Fund

Bridgman once explained the attraction that North Africa held for him, saying, “I was born in Alabama, and I have naturally followed the sunlight.” He left America in 1866 to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris with the celebrated painter of Orientalist themes, Jean-Léon Gérôme. It was not, however, until after his journey up the Nile in the winter of 1873-74 that Bridgman began to devote himself to the exotic subjects of Orientalism. In his later paintings he incorporated the carefully observed archaeological details he had gathered in the sketches and drawings of Egypt during his visit. Bridgman became highly acclaimed in the 1870s-80s for such works as Funeral of a Mummy and other romantic evocations of ancient scenes.