Transit of Venus : Album

Transit of Venus

<p>This is an album assembled by George Lyon Tupman of the Royal Marine Artillery (1838-1922). It is in many ways typical of those produced in the 19th century by naval officers. While this album lacks the focus on topography and natural history that we see in some such albums, it was a means of keeping souvenirs, whether of home, family, friends, colleagues or places visited while on duty, and of practising drawing, part of the education of every officer. Most of the drawings are from the 1850s and 1860s, with some much later additions, largely newspaper clippings. Tupman’s travels as an astronomer for the transits of Venus in 1874 [<a href='/view/MS-RGO-00059-00070/1'>RGO 59/70</a>] and 1882, and his work at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, in relation to this, are not represented. </p> <p>Many of the drawings are signed G.L.T., GT or G.L. Tupman. The first are of Fishbourne, a village near Chichester, including his family home [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(3);return false;'>1</a>]. We follow him to Plymouth [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(4);return false;'>2</a>], where his Division was based at the Royal Naval Dockyard, and on to ships and foreign travel. Depictions of ships include HMS Euryalus [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(5);return false;'>3</a>], the storage hulks HMS Excellent at Portsmouth [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(6);return false;'>4</a>] and the loss of the Enchantress at Mayotte in the Mozambique Channel on 20 February 1861 [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(14);return false;'>12</a>], among others. Tupman’s career of overseas travel took in the Cape of Good Hope [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(8);return false;'>6</a>], Rio de Janeiro [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(9);return false;'>7</a>], Montevideo [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(21);return false;'>19</a>], Gibraltar [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(35);return false;'>33</a>] and more. There are also photographs, including stereoscopic views [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(12);return false;'>10</a>], and newspaper or journal clippings, including a depiction of “The fight in Hampton Roads between the ‘Merrimack’ and the ‘Monitor’”, an Ironclad naval battle of the American Civil War [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(22);return false;'>20</a>]. As is often the case in such albums, carte de visite photographic portraits are arranged to create a full page design [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>5</a>]. There are also drawings and photographs of “types” of people, including “Germans at Petropolis” and a Brazilian officer [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(13);return false;'>11</a>], “El Matador”, “Jews” and “Moors” [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(34);return false;'>32</a>]. Portraits of dogs feature more than once [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>5</a>] and [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(66);return false;'>64</a>], and it would seem that Tupman was more fond of them than he was of cats [<a href='/view/MS-TRANSIT-00001/53'>Transit 1: 50</a>].</p> <p>Some of the drawings are by others, probably fellow officers and friends of Tupman’s. There is a drawing of Wellington Cottage, Wynberg, Cape Town by “C.G.H.” [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(14);return false;'>12</a>], for example, and J.C. Crawford gave Tupman drawings of local people and English officers [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(26);return false;'>24-26</a>], including a portrait of Tupman himself [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(29);return false;'>27</a>]. The album includes group photographs of the Royal Marine Artillery men [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(23);return false;'>21</a>] and officers ( [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(24);return false;'>22</a>] and [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(25);return false;'>23</a>]). Tupman included engravings of statues by A. Munro [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(31);return false;'>29</a>] J.P. Molin [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(33);return false;'>31</a>] and romanticised illustrations of historical tales [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(79);return false;'>77</a>]. A number of printed caricatures are included in the album ( [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(41);return false;'>39</a>], [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(64);return false;'>62</a>] and [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(93);return false;'>91</a>]) and there are several pages from Moonshine, a comic periodical [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(97);return false;'>95</a>]. The last additions, many of which are loose, include newspapers clippings from the 1920s on the refitting of HMS Victory in Portsmouth Harbour, about various places of local interest ( [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(44);return false;'>42</a>] and [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(47);return false;'>45</a>]) and obituaries. There are some sheets of hieroglyphics from the “Tomb of Teta’ ( [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(50);return false;'>48</a>], [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(52);return false;'>50</a>] and [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(53);return false;'>51</a>]) and comparative old scripts [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(63);return false;'>61</a>]. The details of an experiment on “Measures of accommodative power of an Eye” [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(60);return false;'>58</a>] nod to Tupman’s interests as an observer and astronomer.</p> <p>Rebekah Higgitt<br /> University of Kent</p>

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