Sketchbooks and journals from the Ionian Mission © Trustees of the British Museum
Celeste Farge (British Museum), “The Society of Dilettanti’s Second Ionian Mission: William Gell’s journals at the British School at Athens and the British Museum”
William Gell (1777- 1836) – Classicist, traveller and topographer – was famously referred to by Byron as ‘Rapid Gell’. Aside from his numerous books, Gell produced unpublished manuscripts, hundreds of sketches, maps and finished drawings (including impressive panoramas of Athens), and wrote copious letters and notes. Dispersed not long after his death, some of his papers appeared on the art market in the early twentieth century while others are still emerging. This talk will outline what the British Museum has in its collection relating to William Gell and how, often quite by chance, new material came to light. It will then look in more detail how the British Museum’s collection relates to Gell’s journals at the BSA, with a particular focus on the Society of Dilettanti sponsored mission to Ionia.