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Cairo Painting

© the artist. Photo credit: Government Art Collection

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David Austen was commissioned to produce this painting for the British Embassy in Cairo as he has a long-standing interest in Egyptian art and artefacts. Austen uses a wide variety of objects including Egyptian vessels as a starting point, looking to them primarily for shape, texture and colour. He builds up the work in layers, with much painting out, re-painting and moving of the objects, some of which have faint numbers on them derived from museum accession numbers. He has used a heavy gesso coat on thick linen cotton weave which gives the surface of the painting a matt, dry, almost fresco-like appearance. Here Austen is primarily concerned with conveying the contradiction inherent in portraying three-dimensional objects on a flat surface; trying to suggest solidity and depth while still emphasising the fact that they are essentially just paint on canvas.

Government Art Collection





oil on linen


H 168 x W 199 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

commissioned, 1999

Work type



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Government Art Collection

Old Admiralty Building, Admiralty Place, London, Greater London SW1A 2BL England

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