The Grand Saloon and the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery, an engraving
The British Museum, London, England, mid to late 1830s
From Illustrations of the British Museum
The engraving shows the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery soon after it was opened in 1834. As yet only the northern part of the gallery had been built. Where the southern part of the gallery stands today were the Townley Galleries, which were demolished in 1846. The wider area which now forms the centre of the gallery was then known as the Grand Saloon.
It is afternoon, and the sun is shining in through the west-facing windows onto the Egyptian sculptures which have recently been installed. Several of the sculptures which are in the gallery today can be seen. The two red granite lions from the Temple of Soleb are in the foreground, and beyond them are the statue of Amenhotep II (on the left) and the head of Ramesses II (at the far end on the right). The walls of the gallery were painted dark red, a dramatic background for the stone sculpture.
In the Grand Saloon are pieces of Classical (Greek and Roman) sculpture. These were moved out before the whole of the gallery was taken over for the display of Egyptian sculptures in 1854. Several children have been brought on educational visits by their parents. But the biggest crowd has gathered to watch the man who, sitting on a pile of boxes, is painting a copy of one of the Classical sculptures.