Samuel James Ainsley (1820-1874) was a British artist recognized especially for his drawings and watercolours of Italy. Romantic sketches and watercolours of tombs, monuments, and landscapes in Italy. He exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1836 and 1844.
There are several drawings made on the artist’s third Tour of Etruria, April-July, 1843 in the British Museum collection in London. S.J Ainsley traveled with his friend, George Dennis, who later wrote the book “Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria” Vol. I and II. A large portion of Volume II is dedicated to Volterra,with text by Dennis (partly based upon notes by Ainsley) and sketches by Dennis and Ainsley.
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 and made a nocturnal ascent of Mount Etna.
According to Massimo Pallottino, the fundamental note of Ainsley’s works is often that of “depopulated solitude”.
He bequeathed his drawings, prints and sketchbooks (comprising over 200 items) to the British Museum. Some of Ainsley’s drawings and watercolours have been of lasting value to Italian field-workers studying the rock cemeteries of Middle Etruria.
Bibl: 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).
Museums: The British Museum.
Gallery note: This wonderful Roman Campagna is a rare oil painting of grand scale by Ainsley. The classical landscape would have been based on a known lakeside location Ainsley visited to draw and sketch, on the outskirts of Rome, rather than a capriccio.