Sketches of Italy
Little-known Artist’s Journals
With 41 Exquisite Manuscript Drawings
Italy: Orvieto, Viterbo, Perugia, Arezzo, Siena, Florence, 1906-1907. Two (2) manuscript journals with several exquisite pencil and ink drawings, of travels throughout Italy, made by the Venerable Walter Harry Tribe (1832-1909) from Oxfordshire who is best remembered for his service as Archdeacon of Lahore, and who was a little-known but highly skilled artist as well. Altogether 113 pages in manuscript which includes small 16 in-text sketches and 41 stellar full-page manuscript drawings, most or all of which are signed with his initials W.H.T. and dated. Two unique small 8vo. volumes. One is a custom-made vellum binding, hand-stitched with leather, titled and illustrated in manuscript with colour to front, measuring 14 x 9,5 x 2 cm. The other is a note journal with pencil sleeve and elastic strap, leather boards, two integral inner pockets, original endpapers, gilt-edged leaves, measuring 14 x 8,5 x 1,5 cm. Very slight age-toning, one leaf separated at hinge, otherwise both volumes in very good condition.
The vellum bound volume is uniquely personal to the artist’s legacy, being his last journal of art and also, so stated in his caption, “contains my first and last sketches – an interval of 65 years.”
Manuscript drawings of Italy made on-the-spot over a century ago feature medieval architecture and embellishment, Etruscan tombs and urns, mainly in and around Orvieto, Viterbo, and Perugia.
The first volume deals with ancient Etruria and the remains of their complex culture. The region comprises parts of present day Tuscany, Lazio, and Umbria in central Italy. Beginning in Assisi, 30 May 1906, the Venerable W.H. Tribe makes notes on the San Damiano church and other religious sites, followed by a travel account of the journey from Assisi to Orvieto in Umbria. On 5 June 1906 the writer/artist visits the world-famous frescoed Etruscan tombs which had only been discovered forty years previous by Domenico Golini in Orvieto’s territory, at Poggio del Roccolo di Settecamini, between Orvieto and Porano. He observes further frescoes at Cortona in the Sant’Agostino monestary. Subsequently we find a lengthy list of “Etruscan cemeteries worth visiting”between Orvieto and Rome, describing their particular significance and suggesting that he made a notable tour focused on this area of antiquity. Some fifteen ancient Roman and Greek vessels are identified and sketched in this volume. The final travel entry is dated 6 May 1907 describing his departure from Orvieto and the journey to Lago di Bolsena, a crater lake of central Italy, and a list of notable cathedrals in north Italy.
The second volume is especially of interest, memorializing the artist’s lifetime of artwork, 65 years from 1842 to 1907, and containing 41 fine detailed drawings from what was most likely his last journey after having spent his entire career travelling abroad. His first ever manuscript drawing, a sailboat nautical scene painted in watercolour and made in 1842 is mounted to the first leaf, with his original date and initials remaining faintly visible to the left bottom margin.
The artist’s striking coloured artistic rendering of a mythical singed beast chained to an ancient stone fortification and three armorial coats of arms, decorate the vellum binding, which continues with equally fine manuscript drawings.
A true artisan work, the purpose of this charming little volume is to present some of Italy’s finest sites and monuments, as seen firsthand in May and June 1907, the only text herein being succinct captions and historical references to each view.
Following are but a few of the manuscript drawings:
• Castello Aragonese – 15th century Baia castle built over Roman ruins
• A castle entrance and other old town views in Orvieto
• Lago di Bolsena
• A tall stone building with tiled roof
• Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo – a 14th century palace
• An Etruscan tomb at d’Asso
• Inside view of the cloisters of Perugia
• A distant view of Porta Sole – an ancient gates of the Etruscan city walls of Perugia
• The pillar-styled apse and the bell tower of Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pieve in Arezzo
• Cinerary urns
• Spectacular cobblestone streets and archways in Siena
• The “cognizance of Viterbo” lion and a palm tree monument, situated at the other corner of the Via dell’ Indipendenza
Venerable Walter Harry Tribe, MA (1832-1909) was for many years in Northern India serving with the Ecclesiastical Division of the Territorial Regiments as a Senior Chaplain. He travelled extensively in the region. Connected to the Anglican Church of England, he became Archdeacon of the See of Lahore in 1882, maintaining this title until 1892. In 1893 he took a year leave, subsequently being assigned as the Chaplain at Algiers in 1894, staying there until 1895 when he became Vicar of Awliscombe in East Devon.
Born in Oxfordshire, he was educated at Wadham College, Oxford and ordained in 1857. After a Curacy at Broughton, Hampshire he was Rector of Stockbridge from 1860 to 1867. Hart’s Annual Army List reveals that he was appointed Senior Chaplain with the Bengal Ecclesiastical Establishment in 1867 at Dhurmsala, India, and in 1882 he was appointed Archdeacon of Lahore and Commissary. In some of the annual lists he is also connected to Shimla in the same capacity, as well as Lahore. Upon becoming Senior Chaplain in 1867, he began to serve in the North West Frontier, being stationed at successively, Bareilly (1867), Agra (circa 1869), Delhi, Allahabad (circa 1877), Lahore (1879), Sealkote [Sialkot, Pakistan], Rawalpindi and Simla.
[The Indian Ecclesiastical Establishment was created in 1813. Sees of Madras and Bombay were added to that of Calcutta in 1833. These Chaplains were initially employees of the East India Company, and continued as employees of the Governments of the Presidencies of Bengal, Madras and Bombay.]
Of the archdeacon’s personal life, his early years and heritage is unknown. Perhaps information on his ancestry may be available in “Parochial annals of Bengal: being a history of the Bengal ecclesiastical establishment of the honourable East India Company in the 17th and 18th centuries” published in 1901 by Henry Barry Hyde. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be the christening of William Tribe, dated January 3rd 1553, Fernhurst, Sussex.
On 9 July 1861, at Southsea, Hampshire, he married Sophy Lander, daughter of Charles Alexander Lander, HMH Consul at Dardanelles. They had at least two children, as follows:
• Mary Du Caurroy Tribe (1865-1937) who became a notable and famous aviator popularly known as the became known as ‘The Flying Duchess’ After the Great War she financed and took part in record breaking flights to Karachi and Cape Town. She founded four hospitals in England by 1914, where she worked as a nurse and radiographer through to the 1930s. She was also an ornithologist of international renown. In 1888, at Barrackpore, India, she married Lord Herbrand Russell. She was styled as the Duchess of Bedford when Lord Herbrand inherited his childless brother’s titles in 1893. The duchess died aged 71, three months before Amelia Earhart’s death, after leaving Woburn Abbey in her DH.60GIII Moth Major (G-ACUR) airplane, and crashed into the North Sea off Great Yarmouth; her body was never recovered.
• Charles Walter Tribe (1868-1916) who was born in Agra, and married Alice Seaton Massy, daughter of daughter of Lt.-Col. Charles Francis Massy of the Indian Army on 17 November 1903. He was Lieutenant Colonel in the Indian Army, 41st Dogras, and gained the rank of Colonel in the 38th Dogras, Indian Army, died in 1916 at Ctesiphon, Mesopotamia, in action during the First World War.