Henry Salt (Biographical details)

Henry Salt (archaeologist; painter/draughtsman; collector; British; Male; 14 June 1780 - 30 October 1827)

Also known as

Salt, Henry


British diplomat and collector. Born in Lichfield (14th June 1780). He originally trained as a portrait painter and went to London (1797) as a pupil to Joseph Farrington, RA, and subsequently to John Hoppner, RA.

He travelled, during 1802-1806, as secretary and draughtsman with George Annesley, Viscount Valentia, throughout the East, visiting India, Ceylon, Abysinnia and Egypt, contributing a number of drawings to his employer's publication, 'Voyages and Travels' (1809).

During 1809-1811, he went on a Government mission to Abyssinia and later published an account of this trip, 'Voyage to Abyssinia' (1814) and was appointed, in 1815, British Consul-General in Egypt, arriving there in 1816.

He excavated extensively in Egypt, procuring a large number of antiquities for The British Museum and for his own collection. He employed Belzoni in Thebes and sponsored his excavations in Nubia. He also sponsored Caviglia's work around the Pyramids and d'Athanasi also worked under his direction at Thebes.

He sent a large collection of antiquities (his 'First Collection') to The British Museum in 1818 and, after protracted delay, the majority of the pieces were purchased for the knock-down price of £2000. Other pieces were subsequently sold to private collectors (the most notable of these being the sarcophagus of Sety I purchased by Sir John Soane).

He formed, during 1819-1824, another collection (his 'Second Collection') which was reported upon by Champollion and purchased by the King of France for £10,000.

He formed, after 1824, a final collection of antiquities (his 'Third Collection') which was auctioned at Sotheby's in 1835, the 1,083 lots making a total price of £7,168. Many items were purchased by The British Museum.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He died at Desuke village, near Alexandria (30th October 1827).


'Who Was Who in Egyptology', Dawson & Uphill, Third Revised Edition, Ed. M. Bierbrier, EES, London, 1995; Giovanni D'Athanasi, 'A Brief Account of the Researches and Discoveries made under the direction of Henry Salt Esq.' (London 1836); J.J. Halls, 'The Life and Correspondence of Henry Salt. F.R.S. His Brittanic Majesty's Late Consul General in Egypt' (1834); Deborah Manley & Peta Rée, 'Henry Salt: Artist, Traveller, Diplomat, Egyptologist' (Libri, 2001).