The Temple of Kom Ombo, Egypt
pencil, brown ink and watercolour
12 x 8 ¾ in. (30.5 x 22.2cm)
Richard Phene Spiers (1838-1916) enjoyed a highly distinguished career in his chosen field of architecture, having studied engineering at King’s College, London before moving to Paris to work with Charles-Auguste Questel, the architect best known for contemporary public building as well as for restoration work on the monuments of France. Before setting up his own practice, he worked with both Sir Digby Wyatt and William Burges, leading lights of the Victorian Gothic Revival movement. In due course, he became President of the Royal Institute of British Architects as well as the longest-serving Master of Architecture at the Royal Academy.
He was also a seasoned traveller, having won shortly after his return from Paris, the gold medal and travelling scholarship of the Royal Academy. His travels over the years took him once more to France and Spain as well as further afield: to Egypt, Syria and further East, where he recorded, both in highly accomplished drawings and watercolours, many of the sites he visited, with particular attention to architectural detail.
He was also a renowned editor and author on many architectural styles, ranging from Classical Rome and Greece to Indian and Eastern art, including a prized work on the Mosque at Damascus. Without his incomparable input, the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica would have been bereft of articles on architecture.