1828-1830. Watercolour, ink and pencil on grey and white paper, from ca. 11,5x18,5 cm (ca. 4 ½ x 7 ¼ in) to ca. 10x10,5 cm (ca. 4 x 4 ¼ in). Five drawings mounted on two larger album leaves, each ca. 28x22,5 cm (11x8 ¾ in); two are loose, with the traces on the old mounts visible on verso. All drawings either signed, dated or captioned, in ink or pencil, on the lower margins or versos. One drawing slightly soiled, with the pencil captions faded, otherwise a very good collection.
Attractive watercolour and ink drawings after the plates from “Travels in Mesopotamia, including a Journey from Aleppo to Bagdad” by J.S. Buckingham (2 vols., London, 1827) and “Travels in Chaldaea” by R. Mignan (London, 1829). Made shortly after both books had been published, the sketches were produced by British military officer and MP James Bucknall Estcourt. He was second in command of Liet.-Colonel F.R. Chesney during the famous Euphrates Valley Expedition 1834-37, an important survey of the navigability of the Euphrates River undertaken to ascertain a new overland route to India. The present drawings show Estcourt's long interest in the subject which resulted in his senior position in the expedition several years later.
After the plates from Buckingham’s “Travels in Mesopotamia” include:
Halt of the Caravan and diversions of the guards by Moonlight – near Orfah (vol. 1, p. 68).
Approach to Mardin, a city seated on a Rock. Dated: Sept. 12th 1828, signed on verso: M.J.E. (vol. 1, p. 314).
Crossing the Tigris, and first approach to Drarbekr Dated: 20 Sept. 1828. Noted: “Horribly done, <…> try again” (vol. 1, p. 364).
Rocky Defile between Kara Tuppee and Delhi Abass, near Bagdad (vol. 2, p. 147).
Akkerkoof, or the Castle of Nimrod, 12 miles from Bagdad. Signed on verso: M.J.B. Estcourt. September (vol. 2, p. 217).
Tower of Babel & plain of Shinar near the banks of the Euphrates. Signed on verso: M.J. Estcourt, February 21st 1828 (vol. 2, p. 359).
The plate after Mignan’s “Travels in Chaldaea” is: Birs Nemrood from the N.N.W. Signed on verso: M.J.E. April 30th 1830 (p. 202).
With a small pencil drawing of a pyramid, ca. 8,5x12,5 (3 ½ x 5 in) mounted on verso of one of the leaves. Ink caption on verso of the drawing: View from the top of the Piramid [sic!] from M. Wyld’s Travels. C.A.W. July 18, 1842.
Estcourt "purchased a commission as ensign in the 44th foot on 13 July 1820, exchanging on 7 June 1821 into the 43rd foot (Monmouthshire light infantry) before purchasing promotion to lieutenant (9 December 1824) and captain (5 November 1825). Estcourt served with the regiment, which formed part of Lieutenant-General Sir William Clinton's division sent to garrison towns in Portugal (1826-7) during disruption over the succession to the throne. He appears then to have returned with the 43rd to Gibraltar, before sailing for Plymouth and, in 1832, Ireland. From January 1835 until June 1837, he was second in command to Colonel F. R. Chesney during his expedition to the Euphrates valley, which sought to prove that the river was navigable from within overland reach of the Mediterranean to its mouth on the Persian Gulf, thus shortening the journey to India. Despite a torrid period, during which one steamer was wrecked and twenty lives lost at Basrah on 31 August 1836, Estcourt produced a detailed report for Chesney, anticipating ‘no difficulties’ in passage during the ‘season of high water’, provided that accurate knowledge of the deep channel and a vessel of suitable length were acquired. He was less sure about the ‘low season’, owing to lack of information, though he was confident that local Arabs would not be hostile, once they became used to the steamers" (Oxford DNB).
Price: $850.00 USD