El Kaf, The Ancient Sicca, Veneria by Thomas Allom
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El Kaf, The Ancient Sicca, Veneria by Thomas Allom

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El Kaf, The Ancient Sicca, Veneria by Thomas Allom

This remarkable city, now spelled El Kef, is a city in northwest Tunisia. At the time of the print's creation, the ancient world was long past.  In 1840, it was part of the Ottoman Empire. Ahmad I Ibn Mustafa was the Husaynid ruler in Tunisia, known as the Bey. The loss of territory and economic troubles that the Empire faced at this time resulted in his decision to increase both militarization and industrialization in Tunisia. Another focus of his political platform was to improve both science and medicine to prevent a cholera outbreak as devastating as those in the 1830s. Despite these efforts, Ahmad Bey and his successors attempt to modernize the country only drove them further into debt and resulted in the control of their French "allies" over the Empire. 

In the image, the glorious pearly ruins of Sicca - as the city of El Kef was known in the ancient world - stand in stark contrast to the Tunisian men who sit on the ground, rifles in hand, awaiting an unseen enemy. While political leaders such as Ahmad Bey wished to restore Tunisia to its illustrious past, limited funding and the growing influence of the French prevented this from being a realistic goal. 

Thomas Allom (1804-1872) was an English architect and illustrator. A student of the Royal Academy School, he was renowned for his church designs and began a successful architecture career in London. He collaborated with the famous Sir Charles Barry from time to time, and was also one of the founding members of the Royal Institute for British Architects, founded in 1834. He is also well known for his topographical views, such as the one E. Challis engraved here. 

- Onastasia Youssef

Plate size: 7" x 5"

Sheet size: 10.5" x 8.5"

Condition: Minor foxing around edges, but otherwise in excellent condition