Bonomi, Joseph

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Bonomi, Joseph

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  • Bonomi the Younger, Joseph

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British sculptor, draughtsman, and traveller of Italian origin; he was born in London, 9 Oct. 1796, son of Joseph Bonomi the elder (1739-1808), architect, and Rosa Florini; he studied at the RA schools under Nollekens and won the silver medal for drawing in the antique style; he continued his studies in Rome, 1823; he went from there to Egypt to assist Robert Hay in 1824, remaining there for no less than 9 years although estranged from Hay 1826-32; he also worked with Burton, Lane, Wilkinson, and Rosellini; in 1828 he assisted Burton with his Excerpta Hieroglyphica, and in 1829 ascended the Nile as far as Dongola, and in 1831 he accompanied Linant Bey in his expedition to the Gold Mines; he rejoined Hay at Qurna in Aug. 1832; he went with Arundale and Catherwood in a journey through Sinai, Palestine, and Syria, 1833-4; he was much used by Wilkinson and Birch for the production of their works because of his knowledge and excellence as a draughtsman; he returned to Rome to study the obelisks, 1838, and worked at the British Museum, 1839; at this time he prepared the illustrations for Wilkinson's Manners and Customs; he supervised the making of Hay's plaster casts of Egyptian sculpture and their entry into the British Museum; he was partly responsible for the design and decoration of the Egyptian-style Marshall's Mill at Holbeck, Leeds in 1842; he next went to Egypt with Lepsius's expedition, 1842-4; he returned to England and married Jessie daughterof the painter John Martin, 1845; Bonomi set up the Egyptian court at the Crystal Palace, 1853, and made the first hieroglyphic font in England for Birch's Dictionary, pub. 1867; he catalogued and illustrated many Egyptian collections, and lithographed the sarcophagus of Sety I and other monuments; he was appointed Curator of Sir John Soane's Museum, 1861, and was still in office at his death; he was instrumental in the sale of much of Hay's collection to the British Museum in 1868 and Hay's MSS to the Museum (now in the British Library) in 1875. His principal publications were, Gallery of antiquities selected from the British Museum, by F. Arundale and J. Bonomi, with descriptions by S. Birch, 1842-1843; Catalogue of the Egyptian antiquities in the Museum of Hartwell House, 1858; Egypt, Nubia and Ethiopia ..., 1862. He died in Wimbledon, 3 March 1878 and is buried in Brompton cemetery beneath a slate Anubis.


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  • Who Was Who in Egyptology (4th ed. 2012), 68 fig. (portrait).

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