Please Note- this website is best viewed on a desktop/laptop as it is not mobile-friendly. Web-page in development. 

Visit to Egypt March 2024    

(web page in development)


Travellers at Luxor 1877 J A Benwell

'Travellers at Luxor' 1877 


Benwell site Luxor Temple 2024
Luxor Temple, 17 March 2024, from a similar viewpoint. Note the obelisk just outside the walls on the left, the minaret, top of the domed roof of the mosque, and the end of the row of column pillars on the right. 


Resting among Egytpian ruins at evening 1875 J A Benwell

‘Resting among Egyptian ruins at evening’ 1875

You can see here that Benwell has used the same background of Luxor Temple that he recorded in his drawing or sketch made on his travels in the 1860s. The figures and groups in the foreground are different to those in 'Travellers at Luxor (above). Our visit was very useful, as it proved that this painting (place not specified in the title- just 'ruins') is in fact of Luxor Temple.

Benwell site Luxor Temple 2024
Luxor Temple, 17 March 2024, from a similar viewpoint. I am holding a photocopy of the painting!
'Arab Traders feeding pigeons near a Mosque' 1874 J A Benwell

'Arab Traders feeding pigeons near a Mosque' 1874

Luxor on the Nile' J A Benwell

'Luxor on the Nile' 


'A Camel train leaving Luxor, Egypt' 1874 J A Benwell

'A Camel train leaving Luxor, Egypt' 1874

'Travellers at Luxor' 1877, see above top, by 3xgt granduncle Joseph Austin Benwell. Other examples above are based on the same scene- Luxor Temple and Mosque. The buildings and features are easily recognisable. These paintings would likely have been based on drawings by Benwell made on his travels in the 1860s, and later painted in his studio after his return to London. 

You can just see the obelisk, minaret and mosque (Abu Haggag Mosque) and the end of the row of columns. The sand/ground level was a much higher level then than it is now. This is well-documented, also mounds of sand can be seen in the painting. This explains why only a small part of the top of the mosque roof is visible in the photos - Benwell would have had a higher viewpoint in the 1860s. Also, the 'capitals' of the columns have been eroded. I am standing in the approximate spot he made his drawings for the first four paintings from (looking from other direction in the last photo, below)..................................  It has been fascinating following in his footsteps 160 years later.................................(more to follow).

Colossi of Memnon, Luxor West Bank (ancient city of Thebes)

A  Caravan passing the Colossi of Memnon at Thebes 1876 J A Benwell

'A Caravan passing the Colossi at Memnon, Thebes' 1876

Amenhotep III (reigned 1391-1353 BC) built a mortuary temple to the north of Thebes, which was later dismantled. All that now remains are the two gigantic statues of Amenhotep III that guarded the outer gates. The northern statue depicts Amenhotep with his mother, Mutemwia, while the southern statue depicts Amenhotep with his wife, Tiy and one of his daughters. They are between 64 to70 feet high, and made of quartzite sandstone. They have stood since 1350 BC, and were well known to ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as early modern travellers and Egyptologists. In 27 B.C. an earthquake caused the partial destruction of one of the Colossi: the upper part collapsed.  After this event a strange musical whistling began to be heard at around sunrise, coming from the lower half of the statue. It is believed that this sound was caused by the contact of air currents with the porous surface of the stones heated by sunlight. 

The statues are clearly recognisable in Benwell's paintings. I was fortunate to get some photos from more or less the same angle. The statues were already eroded in the 1860s when Benwell visited them, and have been subject to more erosion since his time. Still, it is worth remembering they are around 3,400 years old.

Colossi of Memnon 12 March 2024
A similar viewpoint of the Colossi of Memnon, taken early morning on 12 March 2024 on our way to the Valley of the Kings.

'A Caravan passing the Statues of Memnon, Plain of Thebes' 1869

Colossi of Memnon 12 March 2024

The Colossi of Memnon, 12 March 2024.

Great Sphinx of Giza, near Cairo 

The Great Sphinx of Giza 1886 J A Benwell

'The Great Sphinx of Giza' 1886 (or, 'Resting caravan in front of the Sphinx of Giza'; or, 'Halt by the Sphynx, Egypt')

The Great Sphinx of Giza, 8 March 2024. I was unable to get round to view  from the same angle as in the paintings. One of the Pyramids can be seen in the background from certain angles, as in the 1868 painting below.  I  mentioned to our Egyptologist guide that there was more hilly terrain in the Benwell paintings than there seemed to be today in real life. He said that that in fact there was quite a bit of hilly terrain when viewed from another angle.  

A Caravan with the Pyramids and Sphinx beyond' 1868 J A Benwell

'A Caravan with the Pyramids and Sphinx beyond' 1868

Kom Ombo

Kom Ombo J A Benwell

'Kom Ombo, Upper Egypt' 1876

Below are some photos of Kom Ombo Temple, Upper Egypt, taken on 13 March 2024.  Again, the sand/ground level was a much higher level then than it is now, which explains why the figures appear to be closer to the top of the columns. The painting 'Eastern Merchants' (below) may also be located at Kom Ombo, as the columns are a very similar design and the composition of the painting is similar to ''Kom Ombo, Upper Egypt.' The capitals (tops) of the columns vary slightly in design, depending on whereabouts in the temple.

Easter merchants J A Benwell

'Eastern Merchants' 


Until the International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia, the temple complex was located on Philae Island, near the First Cataract of the Nile in Upper Egypt. The area was subject to flooding after the initial construction of the Aswan Low Dam in 1902. The temple complex was dismantled and moved to nearby Agilkia Island as part of the UNESCO Nubia Campaign project. Therefore Philae Temple as shown in Benwell's paintings in the 1860s/1870s is now on a different island. The transfer and careful reconstruction took place between 1977 and 1980. 

The photos below were taken on 14 March 2024. Note the design and shapes of the capitals at the top of the columns. The carved heads at the very tops of some of the columns are depicted clearly in the 'Carpet Dealers at Philae' painting.

'The Temple of Isis, Philae' 1877 J A Benwell

'The Temple of Isis, Philae' 1877

'Carpet Dealers at Philae' 1885 J A Benwell

'Carpet Dealers at Philae' 1885

Material researched and written by Dee Murray. Website compiled by Dee Murray. All rights reserved.

All images on this website are either scanned or photographed from the author’s own resources, appear with permission of owners/copyright holders, or are in the public domain in digital format via websites such as HathiTrust, Openlibrary.orgthe Internet Archive ( or Google Books. 

Make a free website with Yola