Details: SALT, Henry (1780-1827). The Town of Abha in Abyssinia. London: William Miller, 1 May 1809. Hand-colored aquatint engraving by D. Havell after Henry Salt, on thick wove paper. Expertly repaired 5 inch tear. Image size (including text): 17 1/8 x 23 1/4". Sheet size: 20 3/4 x 26 5/8".
A fine view of the Ethiopian landscape from a drawing taken during the first British mission in 1805.
Henry Salt, artist, traveler, diplomat and collector of antiquities, was born at Lichfield, Staffordshire, England 14 June 1780. He was destined to be a portrait-painter, and on leaving school was taught drawing by Glover, the watercolor-painter of Lichfield. In 1797 he went to London and became a pupil of Joseph Farington, R.A., and (in 1800) of John Hoppner, R.A. The turning point in his career was 3 June 1802, when Salt left London for an eastern tour with George, viscount Valentia (afterwards Lord Mountnorris), whom he accompanied as secretary and draughtsman. He visited India, Sri Lanka, and (in 1805) Abyssinia, returning to England on 26 Oct. 1806. He made many drawings, some of which served to illustrate Lord Valentia's 'Voyages and Travels to India', published in 1809.
The present image is from a work titled 'Twenty-four Views in St. Helena, the Cape, India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia and Egypt', published by William Miller, with hand-colored aquatints by D. Havell and J. Bluck from Salt's own drawings. The originals of all these drawings were retained by Lord Valentia, who also retained the ownership of the copper plates after Salt's death. The format and style of presentation of the plates is similar to Thomas and William Daniell's great work, 'Oriental Scenery' (1795-1808), and the artistry displayed by both Salt and his engravers is in many cases more than a match for the Daniell's images.
The mission to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) was the most important section of the journey from the political and historical point of view. It was the first such official mission from Great Britain and was sent to "conclude an alliance with Abyssinia, and obtain a port on the Red Sea in case France secured Egypt by dividing up the Turkish empire with Russia." (Encyclopedia Britannica  I, p.90)
Abbey Travel II 515 no.19.
Condition / Notes:
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