British Museum
A Description of the Collection of Ancient Marbles, Parts 1-10 (6 vols., London, 1812-45)
Acquired 1859
Location unknown [but cf. State Library of Victoria AF 733 B77D]

The 1857 Melbourne Public Library  catalogue, under books added to the collection in 1859, lists the volumes noted above together with several other early British Museum catalogues dating from the 1830s-50s (Manuscripts, Printed Books, Greek Vases etc.): for further details, see Appendix: Other signficant books acquired for the Melbourne Public Library to 1861.

The SLV now holds a complete copy of the 11 parts of this set (1812-61), identified (by bookplates) as presented to the MPL by the Trustees of the British Museum in May 1864; it appears that these volumes may have replaced those acquired in 1859.

The series constituted a systematic early record of the BM’s antique sculpture collection, including the sculptures acquired after the death of antiquarian Charles Townley (1737-1805), and the Elgin Marbles (transferred to the British Museum in 1816), reproduced through engravings based on drawings by William Alexander (1767-1816) and Henry Corbould (1787-1844). Engravers included Charles Picart (c.1780-1837).

Part I (1812) included a number of the more important Townley sculptures (such as the Venus reproduced here), and Parts VI-VIII (1830-39) covered the Parthenon sculptures acquired by Elgin (pediments, metopes and frieze).

A number of the sculptures and reliefs reproduced formed the basis for  copies acquired for the Melbourne collection from 1861 onwards: for details, see Plaster Casts.

[photo: Part I, plate VII: Townley Venus]


MPL 1857, IV.iv [1859], p.18

The NGV also holds a complete set of these volumes (Shaw Research Library, Rare Books, RB F708.2 LON.BM). For online reproductions of Parts I-VII (1812-35) and Part XI (1861), see (reproducing copies in New York)