Height: 743.000 mm
Width: 622.000 mm
Prints and Drawings
James Stephanoff, An Assemblage of Works of Art, from the Earliest Period to the Time of Phydias, a watercolour
Hindu, Mexican, Honduran, Assyrian, Egyptian and Greek art; mostly from the British Museum's collection
The son of a Russian stage designer who settled in London, Stephanoff (1788-1874) became the official 'Historical Painter in Watercolours' to King William IV (reigned 1830-37). Between 1817 and 1845 he exhibited at the Old Watercolour Society six highly detailed paintings, the subjects of which were inspired by the collections in the British Museum.
This is the cumination of the series. It represents a nineteenth-century view of the hierarchy of art progressing from Indian and Mexican sculpture at the bottom to the perfection of Classical Greece at the top. Certain chronological mistakes appear in the sequence: for example, Achaemenid reliefs appear before Egyptian sculpture and figures from the Nereid Monument appear before the Parthenon frieze.
While most of the items are from the British Museum, some were in private collections. The representations of Mayan carvings were taken from engravings in John L. Stephens's popular book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan (1841).
I. Jenkins, 'James Stephanoff and the British Museum', Apollo-8, 121 (1985), pp. 179-81
P. Conner, The Inspiration of Egypt: its (Brighton Borough Council, 1983)