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A pen and ink and watercolour drawing of a woman dancing in front of assembled groups. A man in red trousers on the right with a long pipe. A group of men on the left in fur coats and red caps, and another group of men in white behind, with musicians. Pyramids in the background.
Richard Dalton was an agent, dealer and artist, and librarian to George III when Prince of Wales from 1755, and later as King. He trained under Agostino Masucci in Rome, and in 1749 accompanied James Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont, on a tour of Egypt, Turkey and Greece, recording the ancient sites in a series of drawings engraved and published in 1751. In 1758-9 Dalton was employed to buy drawings and medals while in Europe for George III and John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, adviser to the Prince, and pictures for Sir Richard Grosvenor, later 1st Earl Grosvenor. Dalton also acted as agent to the King in the 1760s, assisting with the purchase of the collection of Consul Joseph Smith in 1762. He was probably also involved in the purchase of the collection of Cardinal Alessandro Albani in Rome the same year. Dalton faced jealousy from rival dealers and was said to be illiterate, an accusation that is not borne out by his surviving correspondence. In 1763-4 Dalton negotiated the purchase of a significant number of Guercino drawings for the King from the artist's heirs at the Casa Gennari in Bologna, and later engaged Francesco Bartolozzi to make prints after the Guercino drawings in the Royal Collection. Dalton also made prints after the Holbein drawings in the Royal Collection.
The present drawing is one of a number of drawings by Dalton relating to his 1749 tour of Greece, Turkey and Egypt with the Earl of Charlemont. This scene was the subject of Plate XIII, 'Dancing girls of Egypt', in the 1751 publication, Antiquities and Views in Greece and Egypt … with Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants from Drawings Made on the Spot, A.D. 1749; mainly containing etchings of ancient monuments but with some scenes of local people (see RCIN 1075374 for the 1791 edition). Dalton is said to have been the first English artist to have made drawings of Turkey and Egypt. Given the size of the sheet it is possible the drawing was made after the print, rather than as a preparatory drawing.
Descriptive Medium: 'Pen and ink and watercolour', 'pen and ink', 'watercolour painting'