"Egypt, Abu Simbel"
Watercolor by Joseph Lindon Smith (1863-1950), 1899
Collected by Phoebe A. Hearst.
Joseph Lindon Smith, Rhode Island-born and Paris-trained, was famous for his paintings of ancient Egyptian ruins and artifacts. In November 1898, he traveled to Egypt on a whim, sailing up the Nile to the rock-cut temples of Abu Simbel. While painting the colossal statues, built for Ramesses II (Pharaoh of the 19th dynasty, 1292-1190 B.C.), he was discovered by Phoebe Hearst, then on her first trip to Egypt. She was so impressed with his work that she immediately bought eight of his paintings, four of them sight unseen. Later, at a dinner party given by Mrs. Hearst, Smith met George A. Reisner, her field agent in Egypt. After 1905, when Reisner joined the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Smith became a staff-artist for his expedition team.