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Drawings of Roman Mosaics in the Topham Collection, Eton College Library

Patricia Witts
Publication Year:
208 pages
BAR number:


This fully-illustrated study brings together over 70 prints and drawings of mosaics from the collection of nearly 3,000 items formed by Richard Topham (1671-1730). Some are the only known records of mosaics that no longer survive, and many are published here for the first time. The book includes a detailed biographical chapter on Topham himself. The drawings, mostly by Francesco Bartoli (1670-1733) and Gaetano Piccini (1681-1736) showing mosaics displayed in Rome, are described and discussed in detail, comparing them with drawings in other collections and with the original mosaics where they survive. The small but important section relating to Roman Britain, including the Stonesfield and Woodchester mosaics, is thoroughly considered, as are the prints which contain some rare items. The concluding chapter includes an appraisal of how the drawings were presented, the artists and their sources, and an evaluation of the drawings as works of art and as archaeological records.

Dr Patricia Witts is an independent specialist in Roman mosaics with a particular interest in antiquarian illustrations. Her publications include Mosaics in Roman Britain, Stories in Stone as well as a previous publication for BAR: A Mosaic Menagerie, Creatures of Land, Sea and Sky in Romano-British Mosaics, and many papers.

‘Patricia Witts has done the legwork for us and this clearly written and beautifully presented volume, with its wealth of illustrations, allows us to delve into the archive. More than that, her careful and extremely thorough examination of the drawings, the artists, the collector and other corresponding collections, offers an insight into the world of antiquarian collecting.’ Jane Chick, Mosaic, journal of the Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman Mosaics, 2022

‘The research behind this book represents an important study of the art-historical analysis of historic collections of mosaic images. It shows what a careful examination of the evidence can yield in terms of further understanding of the collection, its artists and the mosaics themselves.’ Professor Emeritus Tony King, University of Winchester

‘The book will be of interest to researchers in areas of ancient mosaics, the history of antiquarian attitudes and collections history as well as art patronage and cultural exchange. In particular the book would be of interest to scholars in the UK, Italy and the USA.’ Dr Michael Dawson, RPS Heritage

‘This is an extremely thorough, detailed, and well-researched investigation of this material. It will be of great use to anyone researching either Topham and his drawings or similar antiquarian collectors and collections. A fascinating look at a collection and a collector that are considerably less well-known than they should be.’ Dr Eleri Cousins, Lancaster University

Introduction (S3064_Witts_9781407358987_-_Introduction.pdf, 544 Kb) [Download]

Table of Contents (S3064_Witts_9781407358987_-_ToC.pdf, 228 Kb) [Download]

Preface (S3064_Witts_9781407358987_-_Preface.pdf, 228 Kb) [Download]