The BSR collection of the topographer and antiquary William Gell comprises six notebooks, twenty-four loose topographical drawings and three topographical maps.
The long-term aim of this Digital Humanities Research Project is to reunite virtually William Gell’s notebooks, sketchbooks and watercolours that are scattered around the world from Rome, Naples and Athens to Paris, London, Oxford and Los Angeles.
Our Research Project begins with the publication of a research essay on the life and work of William Gell, his bibliography and the digital version of his sketchbook of landscapes and monuments in northern England and Scotland (Notebook no. 5).
The BSR Collection
The five notebooks and one bound manuscript held in the BSR’s Library were purchased by Thomas Ashby from a dealer in Naples.
In 2004, BSR Director, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, acquired 24 loose topographical drawings by Gell of sites in Lazio, that had come onto the Italian market, to add to the collection.
William Gell’s notebook on Pompeii, which appears to be part of Gell's research for the 1832 revised edition of his publication Pompeiana is part of The Getty Research Institute’s Digital Collections and can be accessed here.
Notebooks 1-3. Topography of Lazio
William Gell travelled around Lazio describing his journeys, drawing topographical maps, copying inscriptions, sketching landscapes and monuments and making notes, including a recipe for medicine to cure malaria.
A research project will follow on these three notebooks which are not available for consultation.
Notebook:4. Roman topography
The bound manuscript on Roman topography relates to William Gell’s publication The topography of Rome and its vicinity, London 1834.
A research project will follow on this manuscript which is not available for consultation.
Notebook 5. Northern England and Scotland
Click here for our Research Project on this sketchbook.
Notebook 6. Spain and Portugal
Click here for more information on our second on-going Research Project on this remarkable document.
The BSR Library’s collection of maps includes three by William Gell:
The map is identical to the 1834 edition but is not mounted, and was republished in the new revised and enlarged edition of The Topography of Rome and its Vicinity by Edward H. Bunbury in 1846 (BSR 600.785.2)