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John Izard Middleton Sketchbook

John Izard Middleton was born at Middleton Place plantation near Charleston in 1785. The son of Mary Izard and Arthur Middleton, John Izard inherited a large fortune from his mother. He was educated at Cambridge University in England and spent most of his adult life in France and Italy. In 1810 he married Eliza Augusta Falconet, the daughter of a banker in Naples. Three children were born to the Middletons, but all died young.

Middleton's education, talents, and background provided him access to social and cultural circles in Europe that were not open to all foreigners. Middleton was an amateur painter and archaeologist whom Charles Eliot Norton referred to as "The First American Classical Archaeologist" in a journal article published in 1885. In 1812, Middleton published Grecian Remains in Italy, a Description of Cyclopian Walls and Roman Antiquities with Topographical and Picturesque Views of Ancient Latium. Middleton executed the drawings while traveling in Italy during 1808 and 1809 and considered his work an artistic achievement. He attributed more importance to the drawings than the text, but because it appeared during a time of turmoil in Europe, his work received slight attention from contemporaries. Some of the drawings appeared in later works on archaeology without credit to Middleton.

John Izard Middleton died in Paris in 1849. His remains were brought to Middleton Place for burial.

Middleton apparently traveled extensively throughout Italy and France between 1820 and 1823. A volume of his drawings embossed "M.L.I. Middleton" contains forty-nine drawings executed primarily with a graphite pencil, although some of the drawings are pen and ink. The technique that Middleton employed to execute his drawings is known as camera obscura. One drawing appears to be dated 1820; nine bear the date 1821; thirty-three are dated 1822; and four are dated 1823. It is not apparent whether Middleton intended these drawings for publication, but there is no evidence that any of the drawings has ever been published. Like many travelers during the early-nineteenth century, a period that has been called "the golden age of the sketchbook," Middleton sketched buildings and scenes that had a particular appeal to him. At a number of sites he executed several drawings from different angles. Middleton used individual sheets of drawing paper, generally 24 x 34 cm, which were later laid in the volume. The drawings are not placed in chronological sequence. Most are initialed "J.I.M." and bear the year that the drawing was executed. Donors: Mrs. Margaret R. Rembert and Mr. F. Dean Rainey, Jr.

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