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Hesketh, Robert, architect

Robert Hesketh travel diary.

1839 October 22-1840 February 19.
Physical Description:
1 v. ([64] p., with blanks) ; 22 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
D919.H47 R63 1839
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Archives & Manuscripts
Robert Hesketh, 1817-1880, was an architect at London and District Surveyor for Bermondsey. He was also the father of architect Robert Lempriere Hesketh (1850-1937). In 1839, he accompanied the artist George Scharf (later director of the National Portrait Gallery) and Sir Charles Fellows on an archaeological expedition, led by Fellows, to Asia Minor. On the journey to Turkey, Fellows treated Hesketh and Scharf to a cultural tour of Europe, including a three-month stay in Italy, five days in Paris, and one week in Athens. According to Scharf, Hesketh was not an enthusiastic member of the group. When Hesketh returns to England, separately, on 3 July 1840, Scharf notes: "He had never attached himself to us by a single act of assistance during the whole of our travels ... His sketches he kept to himself ... On entering a town, he invariably separated himself from us and preferred exploring the antiquities alone ... We parted coldly ...". A detailed account of the journey is available in: Slatter, E. Xanthus: travels of discovery in Turkey (London, 1994). Fellows's record of the journey is told in his An account of discoveries in Lycia (London, 1841).
Binding: Contemporary half russia and marbled boards. Stationer's label: Letts & Son, stationers, and account book manufactures, 8 Cornhill, late 95 Royal Exchange.
Autograph diary, in pen and brown ink, kept by English architect Robert Hesketh on a journey from London to Smyrna, through France and Italy, in 1839 and 1840. Hesketh travelled with George Scharf and Sir Charles Fellows in support of Fellows's archaeological endeavors in western Turkey. The present journal ends on 19 Feb. 1840, shortly after the party's arrival in Smyrna, and just as the more serious archaeological activity was to begin. The text of Hesketh's diary is mostly concerned with the architecture, art, and antiquities of the places visited. There is very little mention of any of his travelling companions and sparse mention of social activity. While the diary makes frequent note of Hesketh's sketching, the volume contains no illustrations, aside from several small plans. Laid in is a single letter, dated 22 June 1891, from Edwin Rushfield (or Rushfeld) to "My dear Mr Hesketh" (presumably Robert Lempriere Hesketh), in which Rushfield returns "with many thanks your father's beautiful sketch books & his diary".
Hesketh leaves London on 22 Oct. 1839 and spends the rest of the month in France, mostly in Paris, whose notable works of art and architecture he does not like. Paintings at the Louvre "contain some excellent ones by foreign masters but are mixed up with terrible rubbish of the French School". Notre Dame is "of very inferior detail ... bad in all points having neither grandeur nor beauty". He visits the Théâtre de l'Opéra Comique to see La Reine d'un jour, and mentions brief meetings with architects Henri Labrouste and Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. On the way from Paris to Florence, Hesketh continues a commentary on the sights. He appreciates alpine scenery, notes the construction of several suspension bridges in Switzerland, gives a lukewarm review of the wine at Asti ("like bad Port & water, but is the best I have met with yet"), and criticizes the narrow streets and bad churches of Genoa. The party takes advantage of pleasant weather and walks most of the way from Genoa to La Spezia, in three days. On 16 Nov. 1839, he visits marble quarries and several sculptors' studios at Carrara. After a quick stop in Pisa, Hesketh spends the next 10 days at Florence, where he admires the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and Giotto's Campanile, the Uffizi Gallery, the Palazzo Pitti, and the Boboli Gardens. At Florence, Hesketh and his party meet the poet and philanthropist John Kenyon and the actor Charles Kemble. After touring the vicinity of Florence, including Volterra, the travelers continue to Rome, where they will remain through January. Here, Hesketh attends vespers at St. Peter's, visits the Vatican galleries, and attends a soirée at Torlonia's. He does much sketching as well, and records a chronological account of his sketching activity on the first two pages of the diary. In January, he visits nearby towns, including Tivoli and Albano. There are several large chronological gaps in the diary while Hesketh is in Rome. After the last of these gaps, on 15 Feb. 1840, Hesketh arrives in Smyrna, where he provides a detailed description of the city, including its architecture, bazaars, and people. On 18 Feb. 1840, he is invited into a mosque at Smyrna, and accompanies his description of it with a small plan of the layout. At this point, the diary abruptly ends, though Hesketh's travels with Fellows and Scharf would continue until July.
Subject Terms:
Fellows, Charles, Sir, 1799-1860.
Florence (Italy) -- Buildings, structures, etc.
France -- Description and travel.
Grand tours (Education)
Hesketh, Robert, architect -- Diaries.
Italy -- Description and travel.
İzmir (Turkey) -- Buildings, structures, etc.
Paris (France) -- Buildings, structures, etc.
Rome (Italy) -- Buildings, structures, etc.
Scharf, George, Sir, 1820-1895.
Switzerland -- Description and travel.
Turkey -- Description and travel.
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