with some elucidatory extracts from a Journal
made during an Excursion from Naples thro’
In the year 1825
by Elizabeth Campbell
“All at once as we commenced a descent a scene of exceeding beauty burst upon us, Etna unveiled in full majesty, Taormina aloft on the dizzy Cliff, below the sea in calm majesty, the village of Giardini, the whole lighted by the brilliant beams of a setting sun.”
(Elizabeth Cambell, 19th April 1825)
Elizabeth Campbell, ‘Mr Walker’, ‘Mr Stroud’, ‘Mr Moor’, with ‘Deaks’ and ‘Nip’ the dogs, “Sailed on board the King Ferdinand Steam Packet for Messina in Sicily on 26th April 1825”. They passed Capri, Stromboli (disappointed to have missed seeing the running lava at night), Lipari, and Scilla on the Calabrian coast, before sailing into the Straights of Messina. On land they travelled down the east coast; past Taormina and Etna to Giardini, then on to Catania and Augusta, reaching Syracuse on the 6th May. From Syrcuse they cut inland to Palazzolo, hitting the southern coast at Gela and working their way west to Agrigento and Sciacca, arriving at Salinunte on the 15th May. They moved inland again and climbed to Salemi and the temples at Segesta before dropping down to Alcamo on the northern coast. They reached Palermo on 17th May and left Sicily on the 20th … less than a month after arrival.
Although easily identifiable in these watercolours wearing her yellow bonnet, Elizabeth Campbell has remained elusive. We know she visited the Italian Lakes and Lazio in 1824 and that she was in the Abruzzi in 1826. She also visited Switzerland regularly throughout the 1820s; her trips here suggesting she had more than a passing connection with the place. But, try as we might, we have not yet unearthed any biographical details.
Nevertheless, her confident, lively watercolours, accompanied by extracts from her Journal, give us a clear sense of the woman. Continental travel had surged in the years after Waterloo, but a journey on horse/mule-back through Sicily in 1825, and at the rate that her party moved, was no breeze. Campbell was clearly an experienced and energetic traveller. Her drawings and journal entries demonstrate her education, intelligence and genuine interest in everything from the Sicilian flora and fauna, to its history, architecture and agriculture. She had a particular, and informed, interest in Geology, which may hold the key to identifying ‘EC’, or one of her party.
While watercolours by women travellers of this date are not uncommon, to have works illustrating a complete journey, accompanied by extracts transcribed from the artist’s travel journal is rare. We have illustrated each of the Journal extracts alongside the watercolours, but have also typed them in full for ease of reading; click on the watercolours to read their full entries.
Elizabeth Cambell lightly stuck her watercolours and the extracts from her journal into an album. Consequently they are entirely unfaded. They have been carefully removed from the album by our conservators, and the watercolours mounted in acid free board.
The works are sold mounted. But a simple gold, oak or black frame, plus UV glass, can be made for £50. Postage to UK addresses is £15 unframed, and £25 framed. We can quote for international postage.