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"New" Image of Artis Discovered

ET Artis by George Johann Scharf

© British Library Board (BL Add Ms 36489 A plate 107)

At the recent Peterborough Heritage Festival, Tim Halliday, who is a local historian, visited the NVAT stall with an interesting story. He told us that he had been trawling through illustrations at the British Library, and had come upon a drawing, which he thought might be a missing plate from "The Durobrivae of Antoninus" by Artis.

Nearly all of those plates, were engraved as lithographs by George Scharf (his detailed biography can be found on Wikipedia ), and the drawing in the Library was by him.

Scharf engraved an incredible number of views of the English countryside and its great houses, which were published as popular prints and the current one appears to be a pencil sketch in that genre. It is entitled "Discovering roman Antiquities at Castor near Peterborough, Northampton as Sketched on the spot Feby 1823". It shows Artis in a well-known posture, holding a pottery vessel, which has been excavated by a workman standing in an irregular trench dug in what is now the school grounds.

Edmund Tyrrell Artis at Castor

© British Library Board (BL Add Ms 36489 A plate 107)

The topography is the same as in the later postcard of 1910, showing cottages and buildings surrounding the church.

castor church 1910

The drawing was never published as far as is known, and this makes it likely that it was produced by Scharf on a visit to see Artis about the book illustrations, and perhaps, knowing that he would be paid for those, he produced it as a memento of his trip. That Artis was still at work in this area in the winter of 1823 is new knowledge, because the Stamford Mercury reported on the 17th January that, "Mr. Artis, whose antiquarian researches have of late been very successful at Castor and its neighbourhood, is continuing his labours in the field between that village and Water newton in Huntingdonshire. He has lately discovered several Roman potteries, and vessels of baked earth in high preservation."

We are deeply indebted to Tim for bringing us this new piece to the Artis jigsaw.

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