About this artwork

In 1751, James Dawkins and Robert Wood set out from Naples on an expedition to study the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria. Unlike previous military, diplomatic and trading missions to the region, this journey was dedicated to archaeological exploration. The trip was almost entirely funded by Dawkins who was the eldest son of Henry Dawkins (1698-1744), a wealthy sugar-plantation owner in Clarendon, Jamaica. The subsequent publication of their findings included detailed engravings of architectural remains that were previously almost unknown in western Europe. Here, Hamilton prioritises the central figures by clothing them in ancient costume and bathing them in glowing light. This contrasts with his representation of the other nationalities in the expedition party.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    James Dawkins and Robert Wood Discovering the Ruins of Palmyra
  • date created:
    Dated 1758
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • measurements:
    309.90 x 388.60 cm (framed: 336.00 x 420.70 x 8.00 cm)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Acquired by private treaty sale, with support by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and with the assistance of the Art Fund 1997
  • accession number:
    NG 2666
  • gallery:
  • subject:
  • glossary:
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve
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Gavin Hamilton

Gavin Hamilton