John Richardson Auldjo (1805-1856) was a British geologist and artist, descended from a family of merchants and politicians. He studied at Cambridge and was the first British to climb the Montblanc, shortly before he embarked on the Grand Tour of the East. He was a close friend of well-known archaeologist and topographer W. Gell, one of the most eminent scholars of modern Greece. From 1830 Auldjo stayed in Naples, where he socialized with several antiquarians and Philhellenes and climbed the Vesuvius, which was active at the time. Later on he published the account of his climb on Mont Blanc and Vesuvius, with great editorial success. He was awarded several prizes for his achievements in mountaineering.
In 1833 Auldjo travelled to Istanbul and the Greek islands. He started out in April 1833, in the company of the British consul in Athens. From Capri they crossed over to Messene and from there to Cythera, Monemvasia, Hydra, Aegina, Salamis and Piraeus, and finally they reached Athens. He visited the city monuments and the tomb of John Tweddell at Theseion. For a short time he lived among the Bavarian court and Athenian society. He subsequently sailed to the Troad and the Dardanelles, to end up in Istanbul. he toured the sights and monuments, and visited the coffee shops and public baths.
Later, Auldjo sailed out again to Izmir, Chios, Tinos, Myconos, Delos, Naxos, Paros, Antiparos, Milos, Cythera and Zakynthos. From there, Auldjo reached Malta, to return to Capri by way of Sicily in September 1833. In 1837 he travelled to Canada with a state mission and later on lived in London. In 1872 he was consul of Great Britain in Geneva.
Auldjo published the memoir of his travels, where he recorded the everyday life of the populations he came across and gave interesting descriptions of the costumes of several ethnicities. He work was enriched with a few plates based on the drawings of George Cruikshank and two wood engravings based on the drawings of W. Gell, to whom he dedicated the edition. The work is completed by an annex with a list of ships of the Ottoman fleet and a table showing the temperatures during the author's stay at Istanbul.
The images which illustrate Auldjo's account render snapshots of everyday life very vividly. In contrast, the plates showing the buildings and public spaces are marked by a certain crudeness, poor rendering or exaggeration.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou