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Giovanni Battista Belzoni

(1778-1823), Performing artist and Egyptologist

Regency Portraits Catalogue Entry

Sitter in 3 portraits
Italian-born Belzoni moved to England in 1803 where he found work for a time as a strongman, actor and conjuror at fairs and theatres around the country. He travelled to Egypt having persuaded Mehmet Ali, Pasha of Egypt, that he could build a water-wheel superior to the traditional Egyptian machine. He built the wheel, but the Pasha rejected it and Belzoni was left destitute. John Lewis Burckhardt then employed Belzoni to remove the colossal bust of Ramesses II and transport it to England. This led to a third career for him as an Egyptologist, and he went on to excavate at Thebes, uncover four new tombs in the Valley of the Kings and discover the entrance to the second pyramid at Giza.

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Giovanni Battista Belzoni, by James Thomson (Thompson), after  Unknown artist - NPG D7715

Giovanni Battista Belzoni

by James Thomson (Thompson), after Unknown artist
stipple engraving, published 1822
NPG D7715

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