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Number: 2244
Continent: Africa
Region: North
Place Names: Egypt, Alexandria
Year of Origin: 1802
Title: Ruins Of The Ptolomean Library
Language: English
Publish Origin: London
Height: 22.2
Width: 31.3
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Medium
Color Type: Full Color
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Engraver: Thomas Milton
Luigi Mayer
Publisher: R. Bowyer
Other Contributors: Robert Ainslie
Northernmost Latitude: 31.25
Southernmost Latitude: 31.15
Westernmost Longitude: 29.75
Easternmost Longitude: 30.0
Measurement Notes: modern Greenwich estimate
Notes: Engraved aquatint view from second edition[1st was 1801]; Luigi Mayer was of German-Italian origins, and studied with Piranesi in Rome, and was later in the service of the king of Naples, for whom he produced a series of views of Sicily. In 1792 he was hired in Constantinople as resident artist to a young Englishman touring the Levant, and joined the entourage of Sir Robert Ainslie, British ambassador to the Sublime Porte, 1776-94. On publication this work was extremely popular, Mayer's views being widely praised for their accuracy and interest, showing as they do the landscape, architecture, antiquities and costume of a region which was the focus of much interest following the campaigns of the previous years. The aquatints were executed by Thomas Milton, great-nephew of John Milton, who studied engraving under William Woollett, the pre-eminent practitioner of his era. The artist-educator W. Bell Scott considered that Milton had "a unique power of distinguishing the foliage of trees and the texture of bodies, especially water, as it never had been done before, and never will be done again"; Born in Germany, Luigi Mayer studied with Piranesi in Rome and was later in the service of the King of Naples, for whom he made views of Sicily. In 1792 Mayer was hired in Constantinople as resident artist to a young Englishman touring the Levant. "Nothing is known of Ainslie's education or early career, but he seems to have worked as a spy, for he is said to have intercepted correspondence from the duc d'Aiguillon to the Spanish court during the Falklands crisis of 1770-71.On 20 September 1775 Ainslie was appointed to succeed John Murray as British ambassador to the Ottoman Porte, and he was knighted on the same day. After receiving his official instructions he left England in May 1776 for Constantinople, where he arrived in the following October. Ainslie's two principal objectives were to further British trading interests, represented by the Levant Company, who paid his salary, and to maintain peace in the region. France dominated the Levant trade, and relations between Britain and the Ottoman empire had worsened in the Russo-Turkish War (1768-74), when Britain had lent support to the Russian fleet. However, the new sultan, 'Abd-ul-hamid, who succeeded in 1774, advocated closer political and commercial ties with Britain to offset the latter's long-established interests in Russia, and he struck up an excellent relationship with Ainslie. Unlike some of his predecessors, Ainslie adapted well to life in Constantinople: being strongly attached to the manner of the people . in his house, his garden, and his table he assumed the style and fashion of a Musselman of rank; in fine, he lived en Turk, and pleased the natives so much by this seeming policy . that he became more popular than any of the Christian ministers. (St James's Chronicle, 9 Dec 1790). He certainly took advantage of the opportunity to purchase Ottoman and Byzantine antiquities and amassed a collection of drawings, many of which he commissioned from Luigi Mayer (d. 1803)" (Arthur H. Grant, rev. S. J. Skedd for DNB). Blackmer 1097 (1801 edition), 1099, 1098; Abbey, Travel 369; Atabey 785 (1801 edition), 786, by Kate Hunter @ Arader Galleries. (Autobiographical Notes, quoted in DNB). Abbey 369; Atabey 785; Blackmer 1097; Colas 2018.
Last updated: Oct 16, 2012