The Honourable Charles Irby stands in front of the Temple of Philae in southern Egypt. He wears formal Turkish dress and points to a stone with an incised illustration.
This is one of two portraits of Irby painted by Jean-Baptiste Borely. The other version (on display at the Fine Art Society, London, in 1980), also dated 1819, is similar to this but shows the sitter gesturing towards a statue of Roi, a priest of Amun, which is now in the collection of the British Museum, London (presented to the museum by King George III in 1801). Both portraits include the Temple of Philae in the background. The Irby portraits also relate to another portrait of the same date by Borely, which depicts Royal Navy officer James Mangles (1786-1867), with whom Irby travelled in Europe, Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor. Mangles is shown similarly dressed, standing in front of pyramids and resting his left hand on part of a carved column. Irby and Mangles were painted by Borely in France, as they returned from their travels. Their ‘Travels in Egypt, Nubia…’ was published privately in 1821 and again as a popular edition in 1844.
Charles Leonard Irby (1789-1845) naval officer and traveller
Oil on canvas
height: 59.00 cm, width: 49.00 cm
Purchased from the Fine Art Society, April 1981
sd&insbl: J. B. Borely [. . . illegible] / pixit anno 1819
Sold through Christie's, London, on 2 November 1979 (Lot 229), as ‘Comander The Hon. Charles Leonard Irby at Philae’; from which sale purchased by the Fine Art Society; from whom purchased by the Government Art Collection in April 1981
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