The Coffee Bearer

John Frederick Lewis, 1805 - 1876

The Coffee Bearer

John Frederick Lewis 1805 - 1876


Full figure depiction of a female servant who is walking through the shadows of an arched entranceway. She is dressed in an exotic style, and the scenery behind her is Egyptian-looking, but her skin is pale and her features Western. She carries a tray on which is set two small cups and two small inverted glasses. Her dark hair is partly covered with a turban headdress which hangs darkly behind her head, framing her pale neck. She is dressed in richly exotic garments, patterned and worn in a layered and loose style tied at the waist with a wide sash, and ornamented with a necklace. Over these robes she wears a short navy jacket with gold leaf-pattern embroidery and gold trim. She stands with one foot placed on a step that leads out from the darkness of the entranceway into a sunlit foreground with a coloured mosaic tiled floor; The open door to the left is decorated with panels carved into geometric relief designs. The light from the walled garden beyond frames the subject. Palm trees and a minaret are visible beyond the garden wall.

Display Label

Gallery text panel The Pre-Raphaelites in their Time Britain's first and best-known radical art movement emerged from within the Royal Academy in 1848. Its original members were rebellious art students who were disillusioned with contemporary practice. They looked back to Italian art before Raphael, seeing the pre-1500 period as one of great sincerity. They called themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In an age of rapid industrial and urban expansion, Pre-Raphaelite artists like Rossetti, Hunt and Millais, and pioneering design reformers such as William Morris, sought a return to pre-industrial values of art and design in truth to nature and materials, and good workmanship. In addition, the arts of the Middle Ages and Middle East were important sources of stylistic inspiration. The Bible, literature and contemporary life were preferred over subjects derived from classical mythology. The Brotherhood also rejected contrived studio lighting and took canvases outside to paint directly from nature. Although attempting to convey exactly what they saw, they created a heightened reality of dream-like intensity with minute details and bright, dazzling colours. Their art was a new kind of history painting for a new age.

Object Name

The Coffee Bearer

Creators Name

John Frederick Lewis

Date Created



Panel: 30.4cm x 19cm
Frame: 41cm x 29.5cm

accession number


Place of creation





Oil paint

On Display

[G7] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 7
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© Manchester Art Gallery

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