(American, 1842 - 1923)
Boats on the Nile at Sunset: el-Kom el-Ahmar (Nekhen), 1874
Oil on canvas board, 6 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches
Signed and dated at lower right: “Near [illeg]”; “Kom Ahmar Mar 16th/74”
Nekhen was the religious and political capital of Upper Egypt c. 3200-3100 BC. It is noted as the site of the oldest known painted tomb in Egypt (c. 3500-3200 BC); the oldest known zoo (c. 3500 BC); and the Kom al-Ahmar Necropolis (c. 3600 BC).
About the Artist
(American, 1842 - 1923)
Frank Waller was born in New York in 1842, the son of a dry goods merchant. He studied drawing at the Free Academy of the City of New York (known since 1961 as the City College of New York) from about 1857 to 1861. According to an early source, “Between the years 1863 and ’68 he was in business in his native city, drawing with pen and ink, and painting in oil in his leisure hours.”¹ Waller first exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1870 and later that year went to Rome and studied with John Gadsby Chapman (1808–1889). Waller returned to New York in 1871, and the following year he toured Egypt with his friend and fellow artist Edwin White (1817–1877). Thereafter he became noted for his Egyptian landscapes, especially romantic views of archaeological ruins and native life along the Nile.
Waller studied at the National Academy of Design with Lemuel Wilmarth (1835–1918). He became one of the founders of the Art Students League in 1875 and served as its first president, as treasurer in 1876, as corresponding secretary in 1879, and a second term as president in 1881. In 1878 Waller returned to Europe and visited a number of art academies in preparation for writing his Report on Art Schools (1879). He exhibited often at the Brooklyn Art Association from 1873 to 1884 and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1879 to 1884. He continued to exhibit at the National Academy until 1887, when he became an architect and joined the Architectural League of New York. Thereafter Waller abandoned his academic Orientalist subjects and painted small Impressionist oil sketches for pleasure while visiting such places as upstate New York, New Hampshire, and Bermuda. He remained interested in archaeology and served as a local honorary secretary of the Egypt Exploration Society from 1897 to 1902 and on the Ur Exploration Society.
1. Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton, Artists of the Nineteenth Century and Their Works (New York: The Riverside Press and Houghton Mifflin, 1894), p. 331. For a recent discussion of Waller, see Amy L. Walsh in Natalie Spassky et al., American Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 2, A Catalogue of Works by Artists Born between 1816 and 1845 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985), pp. 575–79.