About this artwork

In 1799 Lusieri was employed by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, as his resident artist and agent in Athens, where he remained until his death. Lusieri was closely involved in supervising the removal and transport to Britain of the Elgin Marbles. He is best known for his meticulously detailed, large-scale landscape watercolours. The same exacting technique was applied to this, his only known work in oil. The monument, which survives in more or less this state on the Mouseion Hill in Athens, was erected in 114-116 AD in honour of Gaius Julius Philopappos, Roman Consul of Athens under the Emperor Trajan. A watercolour version of this composition is in the collection of the present Lord Elgin.

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Giovanni Battista Lusieri

Giovanni Battista Lusieri

Lusieri was born in Rome around 1755, and worked in Italy until 1799 when he travelled to Greece with Lord Elgin. In Athens, Lusieri worked as Elgin’s resident artist and agent, and was closely involved in the removal of the marble sculptures from the Parthenon for his patron. Lusieri was active principally as a landscape watercolorist, with a fondness for broad panoramas and cityscapes, and for ancient buildings and monuments. He was considered by many of his contemporaries to be the most skilful topographical artist of his day. His works are characterised by his meticulous and precise technique, and were desirable because of their unusually large scale and exceptional quality. Much of his later production was tragically lost when the ship bringing it back to Britain was wrecked.