We use cookies to improve your experience online. By using our website, you agree to the use of cookies as described in our cookies policy.

The Ruins of Balbec, Otherwise Heliopolis in Coelosyria.

Robert Wood

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London: Printed In The Year MDCCLVII.

Physical Description

[2], 28 p., 46 [i.e. 47] pl. (11 dble. and fold.); 555 mm. (Broadsheet).

General Note

Plate III consists of two double and folded plates - usually bound as separate leaves (as in RAA copy), but in some copies pasted together and bound as one large folded leaf.


[T.-p.] - Journey From Palmyra To Balbec; Antient State Of Balbec [by Robert Wood] - Explanation of the Plates - [Plates].

Responsibility Note

All plates are signed as drawn by Borra; and as engraved by P. Fourdrinier except four signed as engraved by T. Major. Only the first half of plate III is unsigned.


Royal Institute of British Architects, British Architectural Library ... Early printed books, 4 (2002), no. 3706; National Gallery (Washington), Mark J. Millard Architectural, II (1998), 94 (French ed.); E. Harris and N. Savage, British Architectural Books (1990), 936.; Johns Hopkins University, The Fowler Architectural Collection (1961), no. 444. p.345.

C.A. Hutton, 'The travels of "Palmyra" Wood in 1750-51', in Journal of Hellenic studies, 47 (1927); D. Wiebenson, Sources of Greek Revival architecture (1969).
ESTC, T137527

Summary Note

Wood visited Syria and Greece in 1750-1, with Bouverie, Dawkins and Borra - at the same time as their friends Stuart and Revett were surveying the ruins of Athens. On returning to Britain he published in 1753 The Ruins Of Palmyra and in 1757 The Ruins Of Balbec.

The plates show the ruins of the temples of Jupiter (Baal), Bacchus and Venus, constructed between the late first century B.C. and the third century A.D., as they survived before the earthquake of 1759. The buildings combine Middle-Eastern and Greco-Roman architectural traditions.

Wood was prevented from making further expeditions to Greece and the Middle East by his career as a politician, but he continued to influence the course of Hellenic studies. He introduced Richard Chandler to the Society of Dilettanti and helped draw up the instructions which are printed in the preface to Travels in Asia Minor; and wrote a preface for the Ionian antiquites (Part I, 1769) whch draws almost as much on his own travels of 1750-1 as on those of Chandler in 1764-5. Almost as influential as the reports of his expeditions was his essay, A comparative view of the antient and present state of the Troade. To which is prefixed an Essay on the original genius of Homer (1767), in which he suggests that the most original works of art are rooted in particular time and place. This was translated into German in 1771 and had great influence on Goethe and others.

Borra's original drawings for this book are preserved in the collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects, London.


A reduced-sized reprint was published in 1971 (Farnborough, UK: Gregg) (ISBN 0576153826).


With the 'R. Phené Spiers Testimonial' book-plate on front pastedown.
Formerly owned by Sir Simon R. B. Taylor, Bart., whose coat of arms is stamped in gilt on the upper and lower covers. Presented in 1916 by the executors of the late Richard Phené Spiers.

Binding Note

18th-century calf, upper and lower covers with gilt borders and the coat of arms of Sir Simon R.B. Taylor, Bart.; re-backed with new gilt-tooled spine (by Ex Libris in 1978?).

Name as Subject


Architecture - Temples - Lebanon - Baalbek - History
British - Archaeology - Expeditions - Lebanon - Baalbek - History - 18th century
Views - Art history - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Bindings - Armorial bindings - Great Britain - 18th century


Giovanni Battista Borra, draughtsman
Paul Fourdrinier, engraver
Thomas Major ARA, engraver
Simon R.B. Taylor Bt., previous owner
Richard Phené Spiers, previous owner