Wood, Robert (1716-71; Anglo-Irish)
The Ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tedmor, in the desart {sic}; and The Ruins of Balbec: otherwise Heliopolis in Coelosyria, London, 1753 and 1757
Purchased by 1861
State Library of Victoria [RARESEF 913.3943 W85 and RARESEF 913.3942 W85]

In 1750-51, Wood, an antiquarian, travelled in the Eastern Mediterranean with several companions including the Italian architect and draftsman G.B.Borra (1713-70). Their trip resulted in these two large-scale volumes, apparently purchased together for the MPL.

Each book comprises a suite of engravings, 57 in the Palmyra book, and 46 of Baalbek (some folded). The designs of the plates are credited to Borra, with the engraving divided mostly between Thomas Major (overviews and some details) and Paul Fourdrinier (responsible for the plans and some of the more refined details).

Both books are regarded as among the first systematic (rather than simply picturesque) illustrated publications of ancient buildings, and are said to have been influential on subsequent interior decoration in England and Italy.

[photo: characteristic illustration from the Palmyra volume (Royal Collection edition)]


MPL 1861, p.563 (both volumes)

The illustration shown here is from the copy of the Palmyra volume in the Royal Collection: see https://www.rct.uk/collection/1071056/the-ruins-of-palmyra

Further information on the various individuals involved is available as follows: Wood: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Wood_(antiquarian); Borra: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Battista_Borra; Thomas Major (1720-99), see e.g. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG36922 (listing other works) [websites accessed 28 Feb.2021]. For Fourdrinier (also called Pierre in some older references), see linked artist entry; some of the Palmyra engravings are also credited to a J.Müller