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Early Christian (Coptic) Monastery at Esna

Edwin Howland Blashfield

American Art

Made during a trip down the Nile, these two precise drawings by Edwin Howland Blashfield depict architectural landmarks of Egypt. In his image of the twelfth-century Coptic monastery Deir el-Shuhada, the artist juxtaposed linear hatch marks with dark shading to capture the play of light amid the transept arches. He also included a careful study of a mural painting of Saint Stephen, as well as color and light notations. (This drawing helped archaeologists in the 1960s discover the mural, which had been covered with whitewash in the intervening years.)

In Temple of Khonsu at Karnak, Blashfield recorded the famous ancient “forest” of colossal columns, focusing primarily on their regularized geometric arrangement rather than their decorative hieroglyphics.
MEDIUM Graphite on cream, medium-weight, smooth wove paper
DATES March 1, 1887
DIMENSIONS Sheet: 8 1/4 x 10 3/4 in. (21 x 27.3 cm) Mat (drawing mounted to): 12 x 18 9/16 in. (30.5 x 47.1 cm)
SIGNATURE Signed in graphite, lower right: "BY. / E. H. BLASHFIELD '87"
INSCRIPTIONS Inscription in graphite: in lower right, "Chapels in a Coptic Dayr / out of Esneh -- dating from early / Christian Centuries / Mch 1 1887"; various artist's notations: at top center, "light"; on capital of pilaster at left edge, "[out?]"; on low wall between columns, "warm yellow"; and on two spots on the floor, "sun"
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Gift of John H. Field
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Mounted on paperboard with 42.217.2 on other side.
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