Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827)

The Billiard Room

Rowlandson, The Billiard Room

Pen and grey ink and watercolour, framed in a gold leaf frame
11.4 x 18.8 cm; 4 1/2 x 7 3/8 inches; frame size 37 x 43 cm; 14 ¼ x 16 7/8 inches

Mrs Caroline Scott, 1858;
Private collection, U.K. until 2018

A similar drawing of a game of billiards is in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (TMS 5665). The player about to make a shot is using a mace, with which the ball was shoved rather than struck. The dominant billiard game in Britain from about 1770 until the early 20th century was English Billiards, played with three balls and six pockets on a large rectangular table.
The subject was engraved in W. Combe and T. Rowlandson, The Dance of Life, 1817, p. 230.

Francis Hayman 1708-1776

Francis HAYMAN, Battle of Plassey


General Robert Clive receiving the homage of the Nawab Mir Jafar after the Battle of Plassey c.1761-2

Oil on canvas, 20 x 203/4 ins. (50.8 x 60.5 cm)
Inscribed indistinctly on stretcher: ‘F.M. Wor… RA’ 1

Private collection, U.S.A., until 2012

Literature: Brian Allen, Francis Hayman (New Haven & London, 1987) p.123, 177, checklist no.101;
The Raj-India and the British, National Portrait Gallery catalogue 1990, ill. p.32, fig.10

This is probably a preliminary oil sketch by Hayman for the huge canvas (12 x 15 feet) which formed part of the series of four gigantic pictures illustrating glorious victories from the Seven Years War (1756-63) which were installed in the annex to the Rotunda at Vauxhall Gardens by the proprietor Jonathan Tyers (1702-67).

Although much acclaimed at the time of their unveiling in the early 1760s, all four large pictures had disappeared from the Gardens by 1840 (they were almost certainly removed and probably destroyed by that date or soon after) but a lengthy description of the original large pictures was published in a contemporary guidebook to the gardens and in the London press and this source enabled the identification of a larger (presumably subsequent) preliminary sketch for the same subject which is now in the National Portrait Gallery.2 Another rougher version of this subject, was with Spink in the 1970s (K2 3992) and is now in a private collection in the U.K.

The subject depicted is the meeting between the victorious General Robert Clive (1725-1774) and Mir Jafar, the Nawab of Bengal (c.1691(?)–1765) after the Battle of Plassey on 23 rd June 1757. Clive was extraordinarily successful in India and, on his return to England in 1760 with an enormous personal fortune, received huge critical acclaim.3

In 1756 the Nawab of Oudh, Siraj-ud-Daula, (1733-1757) captured the East India Company’s settlement at Calcutta and imprisoned British captives in the infamous Black Hole. Robert Clive, in command of the Company’s army, recaptured Calcutta in January 1757 and then took the French fort at nearby Chandernagore in March. Clive then deposed Siraj, with the help of Mir Jafar at the Battle of Plassey.

Mir Jafar’s rule is usually considered to be the start of British imperialism in India. He had effectively betrayed his predecessor Siraj ud-Dulah (1733-1757) who was killed soon after the battle, in order to become the next Nawab of Bengal. He gave a fortune of around £3 million to the East India Company, but in 1760 Mir Jafar was forced to abdicate in favour of his son-in-law Mir Qasim (d.1777). In 1763 Mir Jafar was restored with the full support of the Company for the remaining two years of his life. In 1764 Clive assumed supreme military and civil power in Bengal and forced the Mughal Emperor Sah ‘Alam to allow him to collect revenue (diwan) on his behalf.

It is worth quoting at length from the rather exaggeratedly effusive contemporary description of the large lost picture since the author must have spoken with Hayman to elucidate the subject matter, if indeed the painter himself was not its author: ‘General Clive, after gaining the battle of Plassey in the East Indies, which restored the English interest that had been ruined in those parts of the world, found himself under a necessity of deposing the reigning Nabob; for that purpose sent from the field of battle for Meer Jaffer, a principal General under the Subah or Nabob, and an enemy to the French. Meer Jaffer sent for, seeing the General surrounded by his victorious troops under their arms, approaches him with every symptom of doubt and dissidence in his countenance. The General is represented in the attitude of Friendship, by extending his hands to receive him. Behind the General stands his Aid de Camp with his spontoon in his hand; as bold but as graceful a figure as can well be conceived, the British colours are display’d in the hands of another English officer, with the like appearance as the former, but all of them in different atitudes. A bold horse, supposed to be the General’s that seems startled at the sight of the elephant, closes to the fore ground of this compartment of the picture. It is but justice to the Painter to say, that no figures were
ever better detached from the canvas than those are; that of the General, being the principal, is inimitably free, and in a most masterly stile of painting. The painter could with no propriety avoid representing the British figures in their uniform; but to prevent a sameness in the composition, he has with great judgment introduced the Indian groom in the habit of his country, which form a most happy contrast. Meer Jaffer wears on his face strong remains of the emotions already mentioned, but his dejection seems faintly alleviated by the General’s manner of receiving him. The extension of his arms and the inclination of his body is most movingly expressive of doubt, submission and resignation, which is heightened by an Indian officer laying the Subah’s standard at the General’s feet. The future Subah or Nabob is attended by his son, a youth of about eighteen years of age, bewitchingly handsome, and painted with a masterly propriety. The other Indian figures behind Meer Jaffer are those of his friends and officers, and the countenances of them all strongly partake of the inquietudes of their principal. This co[m]partment is terminated by an elephant on the background, which the greatest judges from the East-Indies say is the best they ever saw in a painting, both co[m]partments of the picture (for so they may be called on account of the diversity of the figures they exhibit) are drawn up around the scene of interview. The painter has here taken advantage of the various dresses of the Indians, which, as well as their arms and all their other attributes, are preserved with the utmost precision, to introduce a beautiful play of colours, without departing from propriety.’4 The other two versions and the present picture correspond closely to the published description except that there is no ‘Indian officer laying the Subbah’s standard at the General’s feet’ in either of the two other preparatory works, although the present work has a native with a box which may contain a folded standard. The present work also has a golden ladder and a chair on top of the elephant. Other minor differences between the preparatory works show Clive wearing his tricorn hat in both other versions but hatless in the present picture. In the present picture Mir Jafar is shown bowing more obsequiously than in the larger NPG picture. The NPG picture shows the red banner of the other two pictures turned into a British flag.

A letter in the National Library of Wales (Robert Clive Papers H1/1-4) reveals that Clive visited Hayman’s studio on 26 April 1763 when Henry Clive paid 5s to ‘Mr Hamans the painter’. This is recorded in an account book in the handwriting of Henry Clive (1709-1775), who was a first cousin of Clive of India’s father.  When Robert Clive came back from India for the second time in 1760, with his young cousin
George in attendance, cousin Henry, who was an attorney, seems to have become a kind of steward, travelling with the party and keeping this account book (Dr Charlotte Mitchell kindly shared this information by email in October 2018). This shows that Clive almost certainly commissioned a painting from Hayman and it seems highly likely that he saw the Vauxhall Gardens work and decided that he wanted one for himself.

Despite never setting foot in India Hayman was among the first British artists to exploit Indian subject matter, a genre that was to become increasingly popular towards the end of the century in the hands of artists who did travel to the sub-Continent such as Zoffany and Tilly Kettle.

1. There is no record of any Royal Academician corresponding to the inscription.
2. See A Description of Vaux-Hall Gardens (London, 1762) bound into the end of the British
Library’s copy. See also The Public Advertiser, no.8905 (20 May 1763) and The London
Magazine, XXXII (May 1763) pp.233-4, quoted by Allen, Francis Hayman (see Literature
above). The larger sketch in the NPG was correctly identified by Brian Allen as by Hayman
when it was catalogued by Christie’s as ‘English School’ in an anonymous sale on 22 June 1979
(162), bought by the National Portrait Gallery. This work had previously been misidentified as
by the American Mather Brown (1761-1831) by Mildred Archer in India and British
Portraiture 1700-1825 (London, 1979) p.419. For further details of the three other large
historical pictures see Allen, op.cit., pp.62-9
3. See Mark Bence-Jones, Clive of India (London, 1975)
4. See A description of Vaux-Hall Gardens (London, 1762) note 2 above.

Thomas Bardwell (British 1704-1767)

The Longe family of Spixworth Hall, near Norwich

Thomas Bardwell, The Longe family of Spixworth Hall, near Norwich

Gouache on vellum, in the original swept frame with labels attached, inscribed on a former label: ‘…ell Pinxt…about the year 1756’
28 x 24 cm; 11 x 9 1/2 inches

Sotheby’s, London, 22 March 1979, lot 84;
Davis & Long Company, New York, British Watercolours 1 - 29 November 1980, ex. catalogue;
Private collection, U.S.;
Paul F. Walter, New York, until 2017

Anthony Reed, London, 1980, ‘Heads and Bodies’, no. 15, ill.;
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, ‘Sporting Art from East Anglian Collections’, 28 June-10 August 1980, no. 19, ill. (catalogued as Thomas Bardwell)

Comparative Literature: cf. Walpole Soc. XLVI (l978) M.Kirby Talley Jr.: Thomas Bardwell of Bungay, artist and author

This rural conversation piece is of exceptional interest as it is rare to find 18th century conversation pieces on vellum on such a small scale; it also has a fine level of painted detail providing invaluable information for the social historian.

Major Francis Longe (1726-1776), the owner of Spixworth Hall near Norwich, is painted at home, just returned from shooting, presenting his wife, Tabitha (née Howes) with a bag containing a live leveret, a symbol of love. His dog peers around the door which shows the park from which his master has just returned, and a spaniel lies at his mistress’s feet. The sitters’ identity as landowners of some standing is directly expressed. The label on the back of the painting states that Major Longe is 30 years of age and this dates the work to 1756. His only son Francis, born in 1748, is standing next to his mother and would have been 8 years old at the time this work was made.

Francis Longe married Tabitha Howes soon after he came down from Cambridge. Francis and Tabitha had a son, Francis, in 1748. Francis (the elder) was educated at Westminster School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge and served as High Sheriff of Norfolk in 1752, an office his son Francis was also to hold. His wife was the daughter of John Howes (d. 1771) of Morningthorpe Manor, Norfolk and his wife Barbara, daughter and heiress of Rev. Thomas Sydnor; they married in 1720. Barbara Howes was painted with her four children by D. Heins, when Tabitha was 14 years old.

Francis, the boy in the present drawing, inherited the estate on the death of his father in 1776. He had married Catherine Jackson (1752-1828) four years earlier. Catherine’s father had an important position in the Admiralty, and sponsored Captain James Cook’s voyage of discovery to Australia. Sydney was originally called Port Jackson after him. Francis and Catherine Longe had no issue; Francis died in 1812 and the estate passed to his cousin upon his widow’s death in 1828.

Spixworth Hall was an Elizabethan house located just north of Norwich on the Buxton Road. The estate became mired in debt in the hands of Francis’s widow Catherine; there were disputes over her ability to sell or mortgage parts of the property. She was reduced to cutting down a grand avenue of oak trees that lined the drive up to the Hall to produce an income. Spixworth Park was inherited by a relative, a great-grandson of Francis Longe and grandson of his second son called John (b.1731), Rector of Spixworth until his death in 1806. The house was demolished in 1950.

The attribution to Thomas Bardwell is historic and strongly based upon stylistic grounds as well as the inscription on the (now lost) label which accompanied it into the late 20th century. Bardwell was born in East Anglia in 1704 and died in Norwich on 9th September 1767 and became very popular amongst the gentry of East Anglia where he painted portraits, views of country houses and conversation pieces. The Geffrye Museum, London have an oil group portrait, possibly of the Brewster family of Beccles, dated 1736 in their collection with similarities to the present drawing, notably in the high level of detail of the interior. Another comparable oil of the Broke and Bowles family dated 1740 is in the Government Art Collection (and was included in Manners and Morals, Hogarth and British Painting 1700-1760, Tate 1987-8). There are however no other known vellum works by Bardwell on the scale of the present work.

Later in his career, Bardwell undertook a tour through Yorkshire to Scotland and painted portraits in some of the large houses en route. In his later years he had a thriving practice in Norwich. In 1756 he published a treatise entitled The Practice of Painting and Perspective Made Easy which is an important book of its kind and of its time.

The genre which grew in popularity from the early 1730s was initially associated with painters such as William Hogarth and Gawen Hamilton. These "conversations" represent a peculiarly English contribution to the arts. They reflected the rising prosperity of the urban middle class in the early 18th century which led to a demand for a more intimate and modest style of portraiture appropriate to the social status of a new class of patrons. They often depict their subjects in their domestic surroundings, a contrast to the swagger of grand portraiture. The paintings thus produced with a high level of skill are exceptional visual evidence of their lifestyle and rising prosperity, their pride in their economic achievements and their self-confidence within their prosperous bourgeois surroundings.

Alongside these urban interiors are the relaxed rural conversation pieces of the Tory squirearchy produced in the years after about 1740 by artists such as Arthur Devis, Francis Hayman, Edward Haytley and Thomas Gainsborough. Bardwell would appear to have been well aware of these latest developments of composition and style both locally and in the metropolis. The portrait possibly of the Brewster Family of 1736 (see above) shows he was a pioneer of the genre, in both East Anglia and the country as a whole.

Paul Walter was born in 1935 to Fred and Anna Walter, co-founders of the New Jersey industrial instruments firm Thermo Electric. Anna Walter was a benefactor of the Morgan Library and Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Through collecting, patronage, and leadership roles at the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Paul Walter became one of the city’s most respected connoisseurs.

We are grateful to M. Kirby Talley Jr. for his comments on this work.

Edward Lear (1812-1888)

Potamos, Cerigo (present day Kythera)

Edward Lear, Potamos

Inscribed in pen and brown ink with location in Greek l.r. and dated: 21. May 5 P.M. 1863 and again in pencil and numbered 189, further extensively inscribed with colour notes and comments, pen and brown ink and watercolour over pencil, inscribed and numbered verso: 159/Lon…?

32 x 48 cm; 12 1/2 x 18 7/8 inches

This view is taken looking across the northern part of the village, from northeast towards the southwest. Mt. Myrmingari can be seen in the centre background, and Aghia Elessa is the rise to the left.

Lear’s extensive journal entry for 21st May 1863 finds him rising at 4 am and drawing much of the morning. After a lunch of cold fowl, old lettuce, ‘biled’ eggs and bad wine he continued climbing, enjoying the views until he reached the house of Pruestos where he sketched on the terrace in a high wind until 5 pm and lodged for the night. He noted that the Potamite women were tall and seems to have drawn one in the foreground of this drawing.

Lear undertook a tour of the Ionian Islands (other than Corfu) from 3rd April to 4th June 1863, shortly before the British left the Ionian Islands and their incorporation into Greece in 1864. He used the drawings for a book, ‘Views in the Seven Ionian Islands’, which was published in London in December 1863.

Edward Lear (1812-1888)

The plains of Lombardy from Monte Generoso

Edward Lear, R.A.

Inscribed and dated l.l.: Monte Generoso/1879, and further inscribed with colour notes, pen and brown ink over pencil

25 x 51.5 cm

Lear returned to Varese and Monte Generoso, on the border between Italy and Switzerland between lakes Lugano and Como, from June 29 to September 22 1879. He stayed at Mendrisio, across the Swiss border in Ticino. He enjoyed sketching the views south across the plains, as in the present watercolour and the mountains stretching up to the Alps. Marianne North the botanical artist came to Como towards the end of his stay and they made a trip to Monte Civita near Monza together.

This drawing is taken from a similar vantage point to that of an oil of the same subject dated 1880 in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum (WA196.39)

Joseph Severn (1793-1879)

Sketching at the Baths of Caracalla, Rome

Joseph Severn


Inscribed on the reverse: Henry Acland from W (?) Severn- March 26 1839 – Drawn together May 1838
Oil on paper
25 by 39.5 cm., 9 3⁄4 by 15 1⁄2 in.

Given by Joseph or Walter Severn (b. 1830), to Sir Henry Wentworth Acland;
By descent to his daughter, Sarah Angelina Acland;
Purchased from her estate in 1931 by Sir Roger Mynors, and thence by descent

This sparkling oil sketch of the top of the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla with the Alban hills beyond shows a seated figure, wearing a blue coat and grey trousers, drawing in the sunshine in May 1838. The inscription on the reverse suggests it was executed while Severn and Acland were sketching together at the Baths and that it was given to Acland when Severn visited England in June 1838. One of his aims was to find a school for his son Walter.

Joseph Severn was the eldest son of a music teacher from Hoxton. At the age of 14 he became apprenticed to the engraver William Bond before entering the Royal Academy Schools in 1815. Here, in 1820, he was awarded the gold medal for historical painting for his ‘Una and the Red Cross Knight in the Cave of Despair’, which granted him a travelling scholarship. This coincided with the illness of his friend, the poet John Keats, and together they travelled to Rome in search of a better climate for the ailing poet. During the winter of 1820-21 Severn nursed Keats in their apartment near the Spanish Steps, his detailed letters from the period of great importance, but on 23 February 1821 Keats died. Severn remained in Rome, launching his own artistic career as a painter of landscapes, portraits and subject paintings. A companionable and likeable character, his large apartment in the Via de San Isidoro became an artistic centre for English visitors to Rome. In the winter of 1837 he met Sir Thomas and Lady Acland who were to become important patrons,
and helped to promote his work in England. In 1838 their son, Henry, visited Severn in Rome. Sir Henry Wentworth Dyke Acland, later Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford, became a great friend of Severn and his family. Acland gave his Oxford friend John Ruskin a letter of introduction to Severn when he visited Rome in 1840, resulting in another key relationship for the Severn family.
The sketch remained in Acland’s collection in Oxford, passing along with the other contents of the house to his daughter, the pioneering photographer Sarah Angelina Acland. On the death of Sarah Acland in 1930, it was acquired by Sir Roger Mynors, then a fellow and classics tutor at Balliol.

Severn remained in Rome for most of his life other than a spell in England from 1841-1861. With the help of William Gladstone, a patron, he became British Consul from 1860-72. He died in Rome in 1879 and, at his request, was buried next to Keats in the Protestant cemetery near Porta San Paolo and adjacent to the Pyramid of Cestius. Shelley, who died in 1822, lies nearby, and Severn’s posthumous portrait of him writing ‘Prometheus Unbound’ at the Baths of Caracalla of 1845 is on display at Brantwood. This portrait shows the same stretch of the Alban hills in the distance.

Severn’s children, Walter, Arthur Joseph and Ann Mary Newton also became artists. Arthur Joseph was to marry Ruskin’s niece Joan Agnew and looked after him during his last years at Brantwood.

The Baths of Caracalla were the second largest public baths in Rome, probably built between AD 211/212 and 216/217, during the reigns of emperors Septimius Severus and Caracalla. They were excavated in the 1780s and became a very popular sketching ground for visiting artists.

Antoine-Ignace Melling (Karlsruhe 1763-Paris 1831)

Vue de l’embouchure de la Mer Noire

Antoine-Ignace Melling


Inscribed l.l.: No 1, watercolour over traces of pencil with touches of gum arabic and scratching out, inscribed with title and numbered on reverse of backing: Vue de l’embouchure de la Mer Noire, further inscribed in white bodycolour on a strip originally below the watercolour, now attached to the reverse of the frame: Vue d’une partie du Bosphore où l’on decouvre dans le lointain l’embouchure de la mer noire
42 x 79 cm

Private collection U.S.A., until 2016

‘Le Voyage pittoresque de Constantinople et des rives du Bosphore d’après les dessins de M. Melling, architecte de l”Empereur Sélim III et dessinateur de la Sultane Hadidgé, sa soeur’, no. 44, published 1819, Paris, by Treutel and Würtz

This recently rediscovered original watercolour by Melling for his Voyage is an exciting addition to his known oeuvre and presents the mouth of the Bosphorus as if seen from a ship on the water. The focus of Melling’s great print epic of 1819, ’Voyage picturesque de Constantinople et des rives du Bosphore’ was water, a reflection of the geographical situation of the city of Constantinople with its wide panoramas, and the unifying thread of his book. This precisely detailed, large and highly finished watercolour is probably the watercolour he provided for the engravers to work from.

After training in his uncle’s atelier in Karlsruhe, Melling travelled in Italy, Egypt and to Smyrna, before finally arriving in Constantinople circa 1784 in the retinue of the Russian ambassador, Count Yakov Ivanovich Bulgakov. He spent time in the Russian palaces at Pera and Büyükdere and also taught drawing to the son of the Dutch ambassador (Walter, op cit., chap. 4 note 4). It was his design of the garden for the Danish ambassador Baron Frederik von Hübsch, native of Pera and head of the Galata Bank Hübsch and Timoni, a friend of Selim III, which led to his introduction to his sister Hatice Sultane.

Melling worked for Hatice for most of his time in Constantinople, designing the garden for her Bosphorus palace and a pavilion for it with all its interior decoration. Elisabeth Walter describes him as a ‘kind of artistic director in residence’ (op. cit. p. 131), overseeing everything from flowers to the design of luxury items. He lived in the wing of Hatice’s palace occupied by her husband Sayyid Ahmed Pasha and was as close to her as a court servant could become. Their correspondence records that Melling taught her the Latin alphabet and they communicated in an invented script of Ottoman Turkish transcribed into Latin characters based on Italian phonetics with a few Italian words.

Sultan Selim then asked Melling to renovate his favourite palace on the Bosphorus at Besiktas where he built a kiosk, a gallery, an apartment for the Valide Sultana and a quay with a balustrade. There were plans for Melling to build a kiosk at Sarayburnu, and he expected to be named Selim’s official architect and designer, but the project was abandoned when the French invaded Egypt in 1798 and Melling lost his position around 1800. His unique position as an imperial insider, patronised by Hatice Sultane and Selim III himself, gave him a profound and rare insight into Ottoman society, and this privileged position allowed him to draw the imperial residences as well as the opportunity to draw and paint many views of the city.

Melling moved to France with an introduction to Talleyrand, French minister of foreign affairs in Paris, and his lavish travel book, conceived in 1801, received significant official support in 12,000 francs worth of shares. This ambitious book, unusually large in size, (each print is 2 1/2 x 3 1/4 feet) comprises forty-eight prints (in etching and engraving) and special attention was taken over the quality of the engravings, text and paper. He contracted with the experienced engraver François Denis Née, who had worked with Choiseul-Gouffier, Cassas and d’Ohsson, in March 1803, to supervise the engraving process. On 7 December that year they signed a second contract with Treuttel and Würtz, the libraires-imprimeurs. In it Melling agreed to produce two versions of each image, an engraver’s version in black and white and a watercolour. Melling was forbidden from producing any competing work on Constantinople until a bound copy of his original watercolours was sold (see Boschma and Perot, op cit. pp.38-9). The publishers then took over the control of the book production of which 700 copies were projected. ‘Voyage pittoresque’ was sold by subscription and in thirteen livraisons from 1807-1819, three prospectuses were also produced in 1804, 1816 and 1819 as was a subscribers list which included many sovereigns; the kings of France, Spain and Sweden, the emperors of Austria and Russia, aristocrats, diplomats, dragomans and booksellers (see E. Walter, op cit. pp132-4).

Melling and his publishers cultivated official connections at the highest level and in 1802 he met with the the three consuls then ruling France and presented two watercolours to Consul Bonaparte (now in the Musée Bonaparte at château Arenenberg on the Bodensee, see Boppe, op. cit, p. ill. 252-255). They kept Napoleon abreast of the project, even sending the first livraision to him at his military camp in Poland and asking for his sponsorship and permission to dedicate the work to him. The plan seems to have worked as Napoleon’s personal interest in the project is recorded and evidence of its significance. Josephine was also presented with drawings from the first livraision at an audience at Saint Cloud in 1807 and she bought further watercolours by Melling the following year (of which four are now in the château Arenenberg). Drawings for the project were shown at Salon exhibitions in 1804, 1806, 1810 and 1812 and Melling won a gold medal in 1810.

The ‘Voyage pittoresque’ was a departure from the other Ottoman travel books of the period in its detailed focus on Constantinople and its environs, linked by the Bosphorus. Choiseuel-Gouffier in his ‘Voyage picturesque de la Grèce’ focussed on Greece and antiquity, the Swedish diplomat and author d’Ohsson in his ‘Tableau General de l’Empire Othoman’, 1790, was primarily interested in Ottoman institutions,mosques, tombs, religious practices and history. The text of the ‘Voyage pittoresque’ makes frequent references to Melling’s long stay in Constantinople and his proximity to the court to add authority and authenticity to the work. The book made Melling’s reputation if not his fortune.

Melling’s work is neatly described by Elisabeth Walter (op cit. p. 136) as a ‘navigational narrative’, with over half the prints illustrating views along Istanbul’s major waterways, the Bosphorus Strait and the Golden Horn, reinforced by the descriptions of arrival in the accompanying text. The sequence of the images take the reader on a journey through the city and its environs approaching it via the water route from the Mediterranean. From Tenedos (Bozcaada) and the Aegean, continuing via the Dardanelles at the end of which Constantinople can be seen in the distance. The the city is approached and then about six plates show places within it, Galata, Pera, Eyüp, Tophane, Besiktas, Scutari and Topkapi. Then the voyage continues along the water onto the Golden Horn, up the Bosphorus and to the Black Sea, which defines the northern end of the river and the end of suburban Istanbul. The size of the prints reflect the panoramas and their uniformity increases the drama of the voyage. It also reflects the secular eighteenth century city with the Imperial centre firmly based around the Bosphorus (see S. Hamade, op cit.)

Auguste Boppe, ‘Les Peintres du Bosphore au XVIIIe siècle, Paris 1911, reprint Paris: ACR 1989;
Stanford J. Shaw, Between old and new: the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Selim III, 1789-1807, Cambridge, Mass., 1971;
Shrine Hamadeh, ‘The City’s Pleasures: Istanbul in the Eighteenth Century’, Seattle’: University of Washington Press, 2008;
Cornelis Boshma and Jaques Perot, eds. Antoine-Ignace Melling, (1763-1831): Artiste voyageur, Paris, 1992;
Elisabeth A. Walter, ‘Mediterranean Encounters- Artists between Europe and the Ottoman Empire, 1774-1839’, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017

I am grateful to Professor Elisabeth Walter, for her comments about this watercolour from an image. My account owes much to her recent scholarship on the subject.

George Dennis CME (1814-1898)

The Puerta Romana, Cordova

George Dennis


Signed with initials, inscribed and dated verso: G.D. 1836/Puerta Romana/Cordoba, watercolour over pencil
22 x 32 cm

Bernard Williams Weller (1870-1944), journalist and critic

George Dennis was an English artist, explorer and writer. He left school at 15 but was a prodigious linguist, who taught himself ancient Greek and Latin then learnt Spanish, French, Portuguese and several other languages. His intrepid spirit inspired his first visit to Spain in the 1830s. From Cadiz he travelled to Grenada through the Sierra Nevada, visiting Cacin, Alhama, the Tajo, the Sierra Tejada, Velez, Malaga and Ronda. He continued on to Gibraltar via Benadalid, Gaucin, Posada amongst other places and then finally returned to Cadiz. The roads were dangerous and he encountered difficulties with banditti. He also ventured further north visiting Tudela, Zaragoza, Toledo and Illesas. His first work, ‘A Summer in Andalucia’ (2 volumes) was published in 1839.

Dennis travelled further in Italy and made an illustrated study of the cemeteries of Etruria, which was published in 1848 by the British Museum, London and he completed the first account of Etruscan sources in the modern era.

He joined the Colonial Service later in life and became vice-consul to Sicily, and subsequently to Benghazi and Smyrna. He was a companion of the Order of St Michael and St George.

David Cox (1783-1859)

A terrace with figures in seventeenth century costume

David Cox

Signed and dated l.l.: David Cox.1836, watercolour over pencil with scratching out
18 x 26 cm

In the summer of 1836 Cox spent a few weeks at Rowsley, painting at Haddon Hall. He made several watercolours of elegant figures in seventeenth century costume strolling on the terrace there to which the present work relates. Although the present work does not appear to be of Haddon, it fits in with this period of his oeuvre.

Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, R.A. (1802-1873)

A fennec fox

Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, R.A.


Inscribed l.c.: stuff: spec:, pencil
11.5 x 18.2 cm

Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd, no. 23392;
John and Carolyn Sergeant, until 2017