The British naval officer Arthur Tower (1816 - 1877) was born in Essex, England. From 1836 he served as an ensign in Royal Navy ships patrolling the Mediterranean. He became vice-captain in 1842 and travelled in the Mediterranean and as fas ar the British possessions in the Indian Ocean. He continued in the Royal Navy until 1863 and was named captain in 1869, when he had already retired from service.
In the mid-19th century the British fleet made hydrographic investigations in the Ionian and Aegean seas. Thus, very valuable maps were created at that period. They did not only serve nautical purposes, as the Hydrographic Service of Britain had amassed a great amount of information on geography, archaeology, topography and natural history of the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean. In addition, the officers entrusted with drawing the nautical charts also made water colour paintings or drawings of several of the landscapes in the areas they visited.
Tower concentrated several of his water colours in an Album which contained forty-three marine landscapes of the Eastern Mediterranean. The album included views of Thasos, Mytilene (1840), Aegina island, Chalcis, Athens, Syros, Paros (1842), Naxos (1842), Crete, Corfu, Zakynthos (1844), Philippoi, Assos in Asia Minor, Syria and Malta. Other Albums by Tower, kept in the National Navy Museum, contain panoramic views of Piraeus, Izmir, Corfu, Syros, Paros and Souda, Crete. Another album, which belongs to the Tower family, has views of Naxos and Kea.
The present edition is comprised of water colours showing landscapes of Andros. The simplicity of the drawing shows a relatively inexperienced painter; however, the colours and idyllic feel lend a special grace to these works. The human figures wearing local costumes were added to the landscapes as a picturesque detail. Given that Andros island was rarely a stoppover in sea journeys, these views constitute a valuable testimony of the island's history.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou