oil on panel
Exhibited at the RA in 1876 accompanied by the text:
"In many of the nooks of Cairo auctions are held on stated days. They are conducted by dellals, or brokers, hired either by persons who have anything to sell in this manner, or by shopkeepers. The dellals carry the goods up and down announcing the sums bidden for them with cries of 'Harraj, harraj'."
Lewis lived in Cairo from 1840 to 1851 in the quarter known as Esbekiya towards the north of the city. This was close to many covered markets, the suqs, of which the Khan-el-Khalil, where auctions were held on Mondays and Thursdays, was the most famous. This paionting seems to be of the area of the market devoted to rugs and textiles, watched by merchants, the mastabas, on stone benches.
Lewis made many studiwes of such markets which seem to have fascinated him. He said he loved to paint the fall of light through ceilings and archways onto the wares on display along with the deep shadowy perspectives cast by the narrow lanes.
He is known to have painted about 50 oils on his return from the East, rivalling (probably deliberately) the Pre Raphaelites in his delicate brushwork and bright jewel-like colours.