Sketching the Nile: Elizabeth Butler's Artistic Representations of Egypt, 1885-1893

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis explores the sketched, artistic representations of colonial Egypt by Victorian artist Elizabeth Butler (nee Thompson, 1846-1933). Despite their Orientalist characteristics, the thesis argues that many of Butler's artistic works allude to anti-imperial thinking. Rather than simply reinforcing existing hierarchical structures, her sketches infer empathy for the Egyptian people, question the historicised representation of Egypt and self-reflexively engage with Britain's supposed 'civilising' mission. When examined within the context of Victorian visual culture, Butler's nuanced, ambiguous representations of Egyptian markets, conscription scenes and colonial life reveal her subtle critique of the imperial project and her sympathy with anti-imperial sentiment.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Western Australia
  • Ball, Clarissa, Supervisor
  • Brink, Emily, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date16 Jul 2020
Publication statusUnpublished - 2020

Embargo information

  • Embargoed from 14/08/2020 to 01/07/2022. Made publicly available on 01/07/2022.


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