Felucca on the River Nile with the west bank of Luxor in the background, early 1900s
watercolor painting by Augustus Osborne Lamplough
Augustus Osborne Lamplough, (1877-1930), was a British water colorist whose collected works feature mostly scenes of North Africa many at sunset or in moonlight. The picture on the card shows a traditional wooden boat called a felucca on the Nile at sunset with the west bank of Luxor in the background. Lamplough’s signature is at the lower left.
The colors and general composition are pleasing to the eye so it should not be surprising that this painting was attractive as an advertising travel poster for the Egyptian State Railway. Later the poster became a postcard and finally a note card printed by Pro-Artis/Droits, 1997, Paris, France as part of a Turn of the Century Collection it has a reference number of 730036.
Boats such as the felucca depicted are still in active use today and popular among tourists since they offer a calmer and quieter way to travel than modern motor powered boats. They are used in protected waters such as the Red Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, on the Nile in Egypt and Sudan, in Malta, Tunisia and also in Iraq. The felucca is a wooden boat with two lateen sails.
The ancient Egyptian city of Thebes was located at the site that now has become a city of over 500,000 people and is called Luxor. Sometimes called “the world’s greatest open-air museum,” because the ruins of Karnak and Luxor are within the modern city. Across the Nile is the Valley of the Kings. Thousands of tourists come here annually to visit the monuments and add greatly to the economy of the city.
The Egyptian State Railways (ESR) used a standard gauge steam locomotive until the early 1960s. About 80 of the locomotives were the 545 class. All were painted green and the number 560, with service between Cairo and El Kantara East, had "The Orient Express" painted on the sides of the cab. Today the railway is called the Egyptian National Railways. The rail line was considered a possibility as early as 1833 but was not a fact until a section was completed in 1856-1858. There is a railway museum in Cairo that opened in 1933. In it are over 700 items including models, historic drawings and photographs plus three preserved steam locomotives.
The picture on the card conjures up visions of Amelia Peabody the fictional intrepid amateur archeologist and her husband and son, products of the writer Elizabeth Peters, as they spend the winters in sunny Egypt looking for additional wonders. It is a place I think it would be astounding to see in person; everything from the River Nile, the birds, plants and animals, the pyramids, the temple ruins the huge pillars with hieroglyphs to the larger than life-size statues.
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