WALSH, Robert/ALLOM, Thomas. Constantinople and the Scenery of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor illustrated…, With an historical Account of Constantinople, and Descriptions of the Plates…, London/Paris, Fisher, Son & Co. [1836-38].
Robert Walsh (1772-1852) was an Irish priest who was resident in Constantinople as a chaplain to Lord Strangford's Embassy from 1821 to 1824 and from 1830 to 1835. Thomas Allom (1804-1872) was a British architect (the church at Highbury as well as Saint Peter's church in Notting Hill are his creations) who abandoned his practice and travelled for nine months (c. 1836-1837) in Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Constantinople.
R. Walsh and Th. Allom worked together on the publication of a travel album for the Fischer publishing house. Outcome of their collaboration is this two-volume edition, with drawings by Allom, Hervé and others, and accompanying explanatory texts by Walsh. This book enjoys wide circulation to this day and together with Miss Julia Pardoe's work is one of the most characteristic albums of that period, extolling mainly the architectural and natural beauties of the multicultural capital of the Ottoman Empire.
The album opens with a thorough historical introduction and a detailed list with information on the emperors and sultans. This is followed by an array of images of monuments (mosques, fountains, cisterns, castles, cemeteries, palaces, etc.), neighbourhoods and scenes from everyday life (public bathhouses, markets, cafés, etc.) in Constantinople, enchanting the reader with their beauty. This city was enhanced in travel works of the nineteenth century, both by captivating descriptions and by pictorial representations in the style of this edition.
The work also includes views from Albania, Epirus, Thrace, the Bosporus, Adrianople and Giannena, as well as from the seven cities of Asia Minor (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamus, Thyateira, Sardes, Philadelphia and Laodicea). In the last book of the New Testament, the "Revelation of John", written on Patmos around AD 96, these are referred to as the seven early Christian Churches-communities to which this eschatological text is addressed. The "Revelation" was the stimulus of many journeys, not exclusively pilgrimages. From the mid-seventeenth to the late nineteenth century, it occasioned spiritual inquiries and meditations of European travellers intent on visiting these ruins and cities in Asia Minor.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou