Collection Salt MSS - Henry Salt Collection

Identity area

Reference code

Salt MSS


Henry Salt Collection


  • 1815-1825 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

1 envelope

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Name of creator


Biographical history

British diplomat and collector; he was born in Lichfield, 14 June 1780, son of Thomas S. and Alice Butt; he was trained as a portrait-painter and went to London in 1797 as a pupil of Joseph Farington, R.A., and afterwards of John Hoppner, RA; in 1802 he accompanied George Annesley, Visct. Valentia, as secretary and draughtsman, on a long tour in the East, visiting India, Ceylon, Abyssinia, and Egypt, and returned 1806; he made many drawings to illustrate Lord V.'s Voyages and Travels, 1809; he was sent by the Govt. on a mission to Abyssinia, 1809-11, and published an account, Voyage to Abyssinia, 1814; in 1815 he was appointed to succeed Missett as British Consul-General in Egypt and arrived there in 1816; he carried out much excavation in Egypt with the intention of procuring antiquities for the British Museum and in the process amassed enormous quantities on his own account; through Belzoni and Burckhardt he removed the colossal bust of Ramesses II from Thebes and presented it to the British Museum (EA 19), 1817; he employed Belzoni at Thebes and also financed his excavations in Nubia, and those of Caviglia at the Pyramids; in 1819, d'Athanasi excavated at Thebes under his direction; from 1818-21, he sent a large collection of antiquities to the British Museum, but the Trustees objected to the price demanded, and after protracted delay, they gave only £2,000 (less than the cost of excavation and transport) for the collection, but rejected the finest piece - the sarcophagus of Sety I ¬which was subsequently bought by Sir John Soane for his museum for £2,000; in private Salt attempted to place blame for the high excavation costs on Belzoni's extravagance; he had better luck with his second collection, formed 1819-24, which was reported upon by Champollion and bought by the King of France for £10,000; his third collection was sold at Sotheby's 29 June-8 July 1835; it had been formed 1824-7, and was auctioned in 1,283 lots for £7,168; many objects were bought by the British Museum; an anonymous sale of Egyptian antiquities held at Sotheby's, 15-16 March 1833, has also been attributed to Salt's estate (258 lots); besides a rather tedious poem on the Nile, Salt published an Essay on Dr. Young's and M Champollion's Phonetic System of Hierog!yphics, with some additional discoveries, etc., 1825; FRS, 1812; FLS; his papers and drawings are in the British Museum and the Griffith Institute, Oxford; he died at Desuke village near Alexandria, 30 Oct. 1827, and was buried in Alexandria.

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Scope and content

1) Negatives and prints of drawings of Egypt by Henry Salt (1815-25), property of Lady Salt, Shillingstone House, Dorset.
2) Photocopies of a portfolio of coloured drawings of Egypt by Henry Salt at the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, British Museum, London.

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Conditions governing access

Property of the Griffith Institute. No restrictions. Consultation only.

Conditions governing reproduction

1) Copyright Lady Salt, Shillingstone House, Dorset.
2) Copyright British Museum, London.

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Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

1) Lady Salt, Shillingstone House, Dorset.
2) British Museum, London.

Existence and location of copies

1) These are negatives and prints.
2) These are photocopies.

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Publication note

2) Bierbrier, M. L., 'The Salt watercolours', Göttinger Miszellen 61 (1983), 9-12.

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Physical storage

  • Shelf: 0702A