Samuel James Ainsley


Samuel James Ainsley (1806–1874) was a British sketch artist, watercolourist, and printmaker, known for his Romantic sketches and watercolours of tombs, monuments, and landscapes in Italy.

Samuel James Ainsley
Born22 February 1806
Cripplegate, London
Known forItalian landscapes


He exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1836 and 1844.[1]

From 1842 to 1844 Ainsley, on three separate trips, accompanied George Dennis in investigating tombs and monuments from ancient Etruria, the Etruscan civilization.[2] From 1844 to 1847 Dennis, unaccompanied by Ainsley, continued to travel in Italy and investigate the ruins and cemeteries of Etruria. In 1848 the British Museum published a 1,085 page treatise Cities and cemeteries of Etruria, with text by Dennis (partly based upon notes by Ainsley) and sketches by Dennis and Ainsley.[3]

In 1842 Ainsley accompanied the artist Thomas Cole on a six-week trip to Sicily, where they made many sketches. They visited the ruins at Selinus and Agrigento[4] and made a nocturnal ascent of Mount Etna.[5]

According to Massimo Pallottino, the fundamental note of Ainsley's works is often that of "depopulated solitude".[6]

He bequeathed his drawings, prints and sketchbooks (comprising over 200 items) to the British Museum.[7] Some of Ainsley's drawings and watercolours have been of lasting value to Italian field-workers studying the rock cemeteries of Middle Etruria.[2]

Further readingEdit

  • Massimo Pallottino: Etruria unveiled: the drawings of Samuel James Ainsley in the British museum / Etruria svelata. i disegni di Samuel James Ainsley nel British Museum, Roma Elefante, 1984 (reproductions with English and Italian text)
  • 1846-1848 - Letters to Thomas Cole from artists Jasper F. Cropsey, William A. Adams, Samuel James Ainsley, Robert Walter Weir, Asher B. Durand, and Daniel Huntington; W. Spencer; and others
  • Citation by D. H. Lawrence in his Letters


  1. ^ Graves, Algernon. The Royal Academy of Arts: a complete dictionary of contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904. Vol. 1. p. 15.
  2. ^ a b Ridgway, David (2015). "Ainsley, Samuel James". In De Grummond, Nancy Thomson (ed.). Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Routledge. p. 14. ISBN 9781134268542.
  3. ^ Dennis, George (1883). The Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria (3rd ed.). London: John Murray. p. vii.
  4. ^ McConnell, Brian Evans. "Thomas Cole e Samuel James Ainsley a Girgenti, 27 aprile-1 maggio, 1842." Sicilia antiqua 10, no. 10 (2013): 273–282.
  5. ^ Parry, Elwood (1988). The Art of Thomas Cole: Ambition and Imagination. University of Delaware Press. pp. 270–272. ISBN 9780874132144.
  6. ^ Massimo Pallottino, L'Étrurie de S. J. Ainsley, paysagiste romantique, Comptes-rendus des séances de l'Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, 1984, vol. 128, No. 3, pp. 497-505
  7. ^ "Samuel James Ainsley (Biographical details)". British Museum.

External linksEdit

  • "Ainsley, Samuel James". British Museum Images.