William Pars, A Sepulchral Monument at Mylasa, a watercolour drawing with bodycolour

Modern Turkey, around AD 1764

Ancient Roman and Greek ruins on the coast of Turkey

In 1764 William Pars (1742-82) was commissioned by the Society of Dilettanti to record an expedition led by Richard Chandler and Nicholas Revett to Asia Minor. The Society's aims were to promote the study of the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations and to give their patronage to young British artists. Although he had trained as a portrait painter, Pars' watercolours are fine examples of their type, recording details with the extreme precision necessary for an archaeological record, at the same time as demonstrating a sensitive response to the exotic landscape and its inhabitants. Pars' watercolours were engraved for the Dilettanti's Ionian Antiquities (1769, 1797) and were also published as aquatints by Paul Sandby (1777-80).

This Hellenistic or Roman tomb still stands on a hill outside the ancient city of Mylasa, on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. It is complete with its classical columns and corner piers under a geometric roof with the burial chambers in the lower floor. Small buildings are scattered in the river valley and a mountain range rises in the background. A warm haze cleverly evolved through Pars' skilful use of watercolour.

Tragically, Pars died young after catching a cold from sketching while standing in the waters at Tivoli, outside Rome. His friend Thomas Jones wrote that Pars had 'an inward bias in favour of landscape … it was with the greatest difficulty his Friends could detach him from his favourite Study.'

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More information


L. Stainton, British landscape watercolours (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)

A. Wilton and I. Bignamini (eds.), Grand Tour: the lure of Italy (London, Tate Gallery Publishing, 1996)

A. Wilton, Richard Chandler, travels in A (London, The British Museum Press, 1971)


Height: 297.000 mm
Width: 471.000 mm

Museum number

PD Mm-11-73


Presented by the Society of Dilettanti


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