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noplacelikelondon:

The British Museum, Bloomsbury, London (by Jim Shannon)

noplacelikelondon:

The British Museum, Bloomsbury, London (by Jim Shannon)

The Egyptian Sculpture Gallery on the introduction of the electric light, an engraving
Published in the Illustrated London News, February 1890
Until the late nineteenth century The British Museum was lit by natural daylight. Candles, oil lamps and gas lamps were not used in the galleries for fear of fire. The first home of the Museum, Montagu House, was replaced by a much larger building between 1823 and 1852, which was designed with roof lights in all the new exhibition galleries. Although a great improvement, the Museum was often forced to close early due to poor light in winter or during a London fog.
As a response to this, the Museum was one of the first public buildings in London to install electricity. In 1879 experimental electric lighting was provided in the Front Hall, the Round Reading Room and in the Forecourt. Although this early lighting system was unreliable, the Reading Room was able to stay open until 7 p.m. during the winter. Within ten years an improved system had been extended to most of the public areas.
This engraving from the Illustrated London News shows guests at a private evening view of the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery, then recently transformed by the electric light.
source: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/archives/t/the_egyptian_sculpture_gallery.aspx

The Egyptian Sculpture Gallery on the introduction of the electric light, an engraving

Published in the Illustrated London News, February 1890

Until the late nineteenth century The British Museum was lit by natural daylight. Candles, oil lamps and gas lamps were not used in the galleries for fear of fire. The first home of the Museum, Montagu House, was replaced by a much larger building between 1823 and 1852, which was designed with roof lights in all the new exhibition galleries. Although a great improvement, the Museum was often forced to close early due to poor light in winter or during a London fog.

As a response to this, the Museum was one of the first public buildings in London to install electricity. In 1879 experimental electric lighting was provided in the Front Hall, the Round Reading Room and in the Forecourt. Although this early lighting system was unreliable, the Reading Room was able to stay open until 7 p.m. during the winter. Within ten years an improved system had been extended to most of the public areas.

This engraving from the Illustrated London News shows guests at a private evening view of the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery, then recently transformed by the electric light.

source: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/archives/t/the_egyptian_sculpture_gallery.aspx

Tom and Bob in search of the Antique, an anonymous cartoon
17 April AD 1822
The middle classes discover classical sculpture
In the early nineteenth century, two important collections of classical sculpture reached the British Museum and were put on display to the public. The ‘Townley Marbles’, sculptures collected (mostly in Italy) by Charles Townley, were purchased by the Museum after Townley’s death in 1805. Sculptures from the Parthenon (the ‘Elgin Marbles’) were purchased by the Museum’s Trustees in 1816. For the first time in England, major collections of sculptures from ancient Greece and Rome were accessible to those who had not travelled abroad or received a classical education.
This drawing pokes fun at a group of people who seem to be making their first visit to the British Museum. They have dressed in their finest clothes for the occasion, but they seem bewildered by what they are seeing. In fact, the elderly gentleman in the centre does not look at all impressed by the lecture he is receiving.
The sculptures in the drawing are not, however, exact copies of any sculptures which are actually in The British Museum. In 1822, when this cartoon was drawn, visitors were able to see the Parthenon sculptures in the temporary Elgin Room and the Townley Marbles in the Townley Galleries. All of these buildings were taken down before 1850.

source: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/archives/t/tom_and_bob_in_search_of_the_a.aspx

Tom and Bob in search of the Antique, an anonymous cartoon

17 April AD 1822

The middle classes discover classical sculpture

In the early nineteenth century, two important collections of classical sculpture reached the British Museum and were put on display to the public. The ‘Townley Marbles’, sculptures collected (mostly in Italy) by Charles Townley, were purchased by the Museum after Townley’s death in 1805. Sculptures from the Parthenon (the ‘Elgin Marbles’) were purchased by the Museum’s Trustees in 1816. For the first time in England, major collections of sculptures from ancient Greece and Rome were accessible to those who had not travelled abroad or received a classical education.

This drawing pokes fun at a group of people who seem to be making their first visit to the British Museum. They have dressed in their finest clothes for the occasion, but they seem bewildered by what they are seeing. In fact, the elderly gentleman in the centre does not look at all impressed by the lecture he is receiving.

The sculptures in the drawing are not, however, exact copies of any sculptures which are actually in The British Museum. In 1822, when this cartoon was drawn, visitors were able to see the Parthenon sculptures in the temporary Elgin Room and the Townley Marbles in the Townley Galleries. All of these buildings were taken down before 1850.

source: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/archives/t/tom_and_bob_in_search_of_the_a.aspx

Frederick York, Main Entrance Hall and Grand Staircase, a photograph
London, England, AD 1875
Preparing to welcome the visitors
It is early morning in 1875 in the Main Entrance Hall of The British Museum, and staff are preparing for the public. Until 1878 the Museum was open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and until midday on Saturdays. Tuesdays and Thursdays were reserved for students. The visiting hours varied with the seasons and during the summer months the Museum stayed open until 8 o’clock in the evening.
Staff stop work as the photographer Frederick York sets up his camera. Two men sit comfortably on a bench at the foot of the stairs. Another two, noticing the photographer, stop halfway down the stairs. As the long exposure needed for this early photograph has already started, their images appear faint and ghost-like. In the foreground is the Piranesi Vase which is now displayed in the Wolfson Galleries.
In 1875 the Museum’s Grand Staircase was under threat of demolition, to make way for more exhibition space. Fortunately this scheme was withdrawn. However, changes were necessary and during 1877 the Entrance Hall and the gallery above it were extended northwards into the courtyard. In 1998-2000 this extension was removed and the South Portico rebuilt as part of the Great Court project.
source: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/archives/f/frederick_york,_main_entrance.aspx

Frederick York, Main Entrance Hall and Grand Staircase, a photograph

London, England, AD 1875

Preparing to welcome the visitors

It is early morning in 1875 in the Main Entrance Hall of The British Museum, and staff are preparing for the public. Until 1878 the Museum was open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and until midday on Saturdays. Tuesdays and Thursdays were reserved for students. The visiting hours varied with the seasons and during the summer months the Museum stayed open until 8 o’clock in the evening.

Staff stop work as the photographer Frederick York sets up his camera. Two men sit comfortably on a bench at the foot of the stairs. Another two, noticing the photographer, stop halfway down the stairs. As the long exposure needed for this early photograph has already started, their images appear faint and ghost-like. In the foreground is the Piranesi Vase which is now displayed in the Wolfson Galleries.

In 1875 the Museum’s Grand Staircase was under threat of demolition, to make way for more exhibition space. Fortunately this scheme was withdrawn. However, changes were necessary and during 1877 the Entrance Hall and the gallery above it were extended northwards into the courtyard. In 1998-2000 this extension was removed and the South Portico rebuilt as part of the Great Court project.

source: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/archives/f/frederick_york,_main_entrance.aspx



Frederick York, The First Egyptian Room, a photograph
The British Museum, London, around AD 1875
This is one of a collection of photographs taken by Frederick York of Notting Hill, London in 1875. Along the wall above the display cases can be seen a cast of the sculptured and painted bas-relief depicting the conquest of the Egyptian king Ramesses II (reigned about 1279-1213 BC) over the Ethiopians. The cast was made from the original situated at a small temple in Beit et-wali, lower Nubia (in present day southern Egypt) in 1825. Colours were added to the cast based upon those observed on site. The cast can today be viewed in Room 65.
The cases below were mainly devoted to what the guide book of the time described as the ‘civil section’, showing domestic items such as furniture and costumes. The exception to this were the cases seen in the far left of the photograph, which contained religious iconography, including representations of sacred animals such as the jackal of Anubis and the Apis bull. The case glimpsed in the far corner (case 7) contained images of Anubis andBes.
The mummies and coffins shown in the foreground were displayed in two rows of angled cases along the central part of the gallery.
The First Egyptian Room is now the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery of Egypt and Africa (Room 65).

Frederick York, The First Egyptian Room, a photograph

The British Museum, London, around AD 1875

This is one of a collection of photographs taken by Frederick York of Notting Hill, London in 1875. Along the wall above the display cases can be seen a cast of the sculptured and painted bas-relief depicting the conquest of the Egyptian king Ramesses II (reigned about 1279-1213 BC) over the Ethiopians. The cast was made from the original situated at a small temple in Beit et-wali, lower Nubia (in present day southern Egypt) in 1825. Colours were added to the cast based upon those observed on site. The cast can today be viewed in Room 65.

The cases below were mainly devoted to what the guide book of the time described as the ‘civil section’, showing domestic items such as furniture and costumes. The exception to this were the cases seen in the far left of the photograph, which contained religious iconography, including representations of sacred animals such as the jackal of Anubis and the Apis bull. The case glimpsed in the far corner (case 7) contained images of Anubis andBes.

The mummies and coffins shown in the foreground were displayed in two rows of angled cases along the central part of the gallery.

The First Egyptian Room is now the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery of Egypt and Africa (Room 65).

W. Chambers, The Townley Collection in the Dining Room at Park Street, Westminster, a watercolour
London, AD 1794-95
Charles Townley (1737-1805) was a Lancashire Catholic with a considerable fortune. He travelled on three Grand Tours to Italy, buying antique sculpture, vases, coins, manuscripts and Old Master drawings and paintings. Many of the most important pieces from his collection are now in the British Museum’s Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities.
This watercolour is one of a pair which show the Townley Collection arranged in his house at 7 Park Street, Westminster. He printed a catalogue and encouraged visitors so that the collection became one of the significant sights of London. In the centre of this view of the sculptures displayed in the dining room, a young lady sketches, seated at the base of the famousDiscobolos (discus-thrower) discovered at Tivoli, Italy in 1791 and now in The British Museum. The room’s colour scheme of red Ionic columns, painted to look like porphyry (precious red marble), and blue walls, was designed specifically as a strong visual backdrop, to focus the viewer’s attention on the white marble sculptures alone.
This drawing, in pen and ink with watercolour and touches of gouache is by W. Chambers, a minor artist who flourished around 1794, one of a number of artists employed by Townley to draw objects in his collection. Townely paid ‘W. Chambers £5.5.0 for the companion view of the Hall of Park Street in 1795. He may be the W.A. Chalmers who exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1790 to 1794, and he is not to be confused with the more famous architect, Sir William Chambers (1723-96).
source: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/pd/w/w_chambers,_the_townley_colle.aspx

W. Chambers, The Townley Collection in the Dining Room at Park Street, Westminster, a watercolour

London, AD 1794-95

Charles Townley (1737-1805) was a Lancashire Catholic with a considerable fortune. He travelled on three Grand Tours to Italy, buying antique sculpture, vases, coins, manuscripts and Old Master drawings and paintings. Many of the most important pieces from his collection are now in the British Museum’s Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

This watercolour is one of a pair which show the Townley Collection arranged in his house at 7 Park Street, Westminster. He printed a catalogue and encouraged visitors so that the collection became one of the significant sights of London. In the centre of this view of the sculptures displayed in the dining room, a young lady sketches, seated at the base of the famousDiscobolos (discus-thrower) discovered at Tivoli, Italy in 1791 and now in The British Museum. The room’s colour scheme of red Ionic columns, painted to look like porphyry (precious red marble), and blue walls, was designed specifically as a strong visual backdrop, to focus the viewer’s attention on the white marble sculptures alone.

This drawing, in pen and ink with watercolour and touches of gouache is by W. Chambers, a minor artist who flourished around 1794, one of a number of artists employed by Townley to draw objects in his collection. Townely paid ‘W. Chambers £5.5.0 for the companion view of the Hall of Park Street in 1795. He may be the W.A. Chalmers who exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1790 to 1794, and he is not to be confused with the more famous architect, Sir William Chambers (1723-96).

source: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/pd/w/w_chambers,_the_townley_colle.aspx

Roger Fenton, The Discus-thrower (discobolos), a photograph
London, England, AD 1857
A famous sculpture in an unusual setting
In this unusual photograph by Roger Fenton we see a famous Roman sculpture, the Discobolos, or Discus Thrower, acquired in 1805. In 1857 part of the Graeco-Roman Saloon was being redecorated and reorganized. The Discobolos was waiting to be installed and had been left outside the Saloon in the Assyrian Transept.
With the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery as a backdrop, this impressive sculpture proved an irresistible subject for photography. Roger Fenton had already taken several photographs of the Museum galleries and seized the opportunity to capture this fascinating image for future generations.
The photograph was reproduced as a stereoscopic view which members of the public were able to buy with copies of The Stereoscopic Magazine. When viewed at home using a stereoscope the images would appear in three-dimensions.
source: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/archives/r/roger_fenton,_the_discus-throw.aspx

Roger Fenton, The Discus-thrower (discobolos), a photograph

London, England, AD 1857

A famous sculpture in an unusual setting

In this unusual photograph by Roger Fenton we see a famous Roman sculpture, the Discobolos, or Discus Thrower, acquired in 1805. In 1857 part of the Graeco-Roman Saloon was being redecorated and reorganized. The Discobolos was waiting to be installed and had been left outside the Saloon in the Assyrian Transept.

With the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery as a backdrop, this impressive sculpture proved an irresistible subject for photography. Roger Fenton had already taken several photographs of the Museum galleries and seized the opportunity to capture this fascinating image for future generations.

The photograph was reproduced as a stereoscopic view which members of the public were able to buy with copies of The Stereoscopic Magazine. When viewed at home using a stereoscope the images would appear in three-dimensions.

source: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/archives/r/roger_fenton,_the_discus-throw.aspx

Gold mourning ring with a painted eye
England, after AD 1794
To help them remember a friend or relative who had died, some people would have a gold ring like this one made. On this ring would be a picture of the eye of the person to be remembered. The eye was usually cut out from a portrait and stuck onto the ring.
This particular ring was made to remember Mary Dean who died on the 27th of August 1794, aged 73. The eye must have been cut from a portrait of Mary painted when she was much younger - you can’t see any wrinkles around it.

more about this object

Gold mourning ring with a painted eye

England, after AD 1794

To help them remember a friend or relative who had died, some people would have a gold ring like this one made. On this ring would be a picture of the eye of the person to be remembered. The eye was usually cut out from a portrait and stuck onto the ring.

This particular ring was made to remember Mary Dean who died on the 27th of August 1794, aged 73. The eye must have been cut from a portrait of Mary painted when she was much younger - you can’t see any wrinkles around it.

more about this object

illustration by Quentin Blake http://www.quentinblake.com