In the winter of 1885-6 Farquharson visited Egypt. The ambitious figurative compositions he exhibited in London between 1886-1893 contrast with the peaceful, cold, Scottish landscapes that became his stock of trade. Busy and colourful, they convey the hectic exoticism of Egyptian streetlife. Farquharson was inspired to paint large scale figurative pictures following his attendence at the Paris atelier of Carolus-Durand during the early 1880s.
In Cairo was the first of this group (Royal Academy, 1886, no. 41), and was succeeded by other subjects such as Entrance to a Turkish Bath, Cairo (RA, 1892, no. 868) and the splendid Mosque of Sultan Hassan, Cairo (International Art Exhibition, 1889).
The present work is a study for Farquharson's 1893 Royal Academy exhibit, Market in Egypt (see Sotheby's, Gleneagles, 2 September 1998, lot 1440; £47,700). The figures depicted appear to the left of the finished composition.