Giovanni Battista Borra (1712-1786)
The Roman Aqueduct near Mytilene on the Island of Lesbos, Greece
Pen and black ink and watercolour over traces of pencil on laid paper
7 5/8 x 12 1/8 in. • 195 x 308 mm
Inscribed on original washline mount: Aquaduct at Mytelina [sic]
Robert Wood (1717-1771) as part of an album;
By descent in the Neville-Rolfe family until the 1970s
Borra studied architecture under Barnardo Vittore (1704-1770) in Turin and in either late 1749, or early 1750, he was employed by the antiquarian Robert Wood, as official draughtsman for Wood's expedition to explore the classical architecture of Asia Minor. The resulting publications, 'The Ruins of Balbec', 1753 and 'The Ruins of Palmyra,' 1757, with plates after Borra's careful, measured drawings, formed the first accurate record of the roman antiquity of the Eastern Mediterranean. As such they proved enormously influential on the development of the Neo-Classical style which became dominant in Britain in the second half of the 18th Century.
The present drawing which originally formed part of an album in Robert Wood's collection, was sold in the 18th Century to the Neville-Rolfe family, with whom it remained until the 1970s, when the family sold the majority of the drawings to Paul Mellon (these are now in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven), retaining only a few of coloured sheets, such as the present work, until these too were dispersed.