A Tessellated Floor of an Ancient Bath in Nants.
A Tessellated Floor of an Ancient Bath in Nants. A Tessellated Floor of an Ancient Bath in Nants.

[Winterton, Lincolnshire] n.p.. undated [pre 1804].

Original pen and coloured ink drawing (146x108mm) of a mosaic floor on thick paper, mounted on card (198x140mm) and framed. Beneath the drawing is inscribed "William Fowler Fecitt (sic)" and the description "A Tessellated Floor of an Ancient Bath in Nants (sic) in the South of France supposed to be Built by Antonious (sic) Pius". The hand-coloured engraving of this mosaic appears in volume one of Fowler's Engravings of the Mosaic Pavements &c published in 1804. This beautiful drawing is in excellent condition with the colours particularly fresh. Original drawings by Fowler are rare and this is a particularly fine example.

William Fowler (1761-1832) was born in Lincolnshire where he ran his own business as a builder and architect. He also produced, in his spare time, a large quantity of drawings of old buildings, tombs and brasses, stained glass, and Roman mosaic pavements. Roman mosaics had first been excavated in Fowler’s home town of Winterton in 1747 and continued to be unearthed during his lifetime (he even discovered one himself). He was encouraged to have his drawings engraved so that copies could be sold. The first few were cut by his brother-in-law in London but Fowler taught himself the art of engraving. His prints were issued separately until, between 1804 and 1824, they were published together (there are 114 in total) in three volumes dedicated to Sir Joseph Banks. Although Fowler travelled widely in the United Kingdom (he met Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scott) there is no record of his visiting France and all his other work is of mosaics and glass found in Britain so it seems likely that he produced this drawing of the Nantes mosaic from a print.