Richard Dalton was Librarian to the King of England, a founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts and an engraver. He travelled to the East in 1749 as a painter, accompanying James Aulfield, Earl of Charlemont. The two visited the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Myconos, Delos, Naxos, Tinos, Syros, Paros, Antiparos, Rhodes and Cos as well as the opposite coast of Asia Minor. In November of the same year they arrived at Kythnos and from there to Aegina and Athens. They then travelled to Corinth, Thebes and Euboea.
In his diary, Charlemont records details on their visits to monuments as well as interesting observation on the joinings of the marbles; he also reports snapshots from the life of the inhabitants. Due to his clash with Charlemont, Dalton’s drawings were published without the former’s support. They are the first drawings of the Parthenon sculptures and of the temple, set in a bare, hostile environment. In spite of weaknesses and vacillation in execution, they are among the early – that is, anterior to J. Stuart and N. Revett, who started on their journey in that same year, 1751 – published views of that briliant monument.
These impressive drawings were published without an accompanying text and the monuments represented stand alone without any surrounding building, on the Acropolis as well as in the inhabited neighbourhoods. The album includes a view of Aetna, twenty-three drawings of Athens (the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the monument of Lysicrates, Hadrian’s Arch, the monument of Philopappos) and also an interesting panoramic view of Istanbul, the cave of Antiparos and fifteen views of monuments in Egypt (the Pyramids and the catacombs of Alexandria).
Later on, in 1771, Dalton published his drawings of the Halicarnassus reliefs and in 1781 a book of costumes from Egypt. After his death, all his drawings were released in one edition in 1791. Many of his unpublished original drawings are kept in the Royal Library, Windsor.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou