Eunice and Ron Shanahan have shared with readers of the Victorian Web this material from their website, Letters from the Past.

The letter written by Joseph John Scoles from Argyll Place on 13 November is addressed to "Robert Hay Esq, Ormiston Hall, TRANENT." In it there are references to Bonomi, who was Joseph, son of architect Ignatius Bonomi.

Joseph Bonomi was a draughtsman and traveller who worked in Egypt with some of the best-known scholars of the first half of the 19th century, such as Robert Hay, James Burton, E.W. Lane, Sir John Gardner Wilkinson, and Ippolito Rossellini. He was a member of Richard Lepsius's expedition in 1842-4. He was appointed Curator of Sir John Soane's Museum in 1861.

The sketches and other material of Joseph Bonomi are in the collection presented to the Archive of the Griffith Institute which consists of some 500 sketches, watercolours, tracings, etc. They date to various periods of Bonomi's career and include Egyptian as well as Classical, 19th-century Egyptian and other subjects (including Palestine).

The Egyptian material contains general views of monuments, such as Trajan's Kiosk at Philae or the temple-remains at Elephantine, architectural views, and copies of various monuments, e.g. of a fragment of the sarcophagus of King Ay and other objects at Hartwell House.

Bonomi appears time and time again in any survey of early nineteenth century Egyptology - on an expedition, arranging an exhibition, publicising Egyptology, helping Wilkinson and Lane (both of whom were good amateur artists) to illustrate Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians, and rounded off a dinstinguished career as curator of the Soane Museum, guardian of one of the most exquisite speciments of Egyptian art in Britain, the alabaster sarcophagus of Seti I which Belzoni had excavated.


Searight, Sarah. The British in the Middle East. London, Elton Press 1979. pp. 238-41.

Last modified 10 December 2002