Four years ago Lee Young and John Wyatt began a project to catalogue all of the watercolours held at The Griffith Institute and The Egypt Exploration Society. Their aim was to eventually combine both collections in one online publication. All three tasks, the cataloguing of each collection and then their combination, are now nearing completion and will be published online shortly. Here John Wyatt gives an overview of the project so far.

Since 2011 a staggering 405 of The Griffith Institute paintings have been catalogued, scanned and prepared for final publication online. Some of these have already appeared in a virtual album of Howard Carter’s bird and animal watercolours available here: Additionally 150 of The Egypt Exploration Society’s paintings have also been catalogued at the Griffith Institute leaving some 120 left to be entered. This combined cataloguing is scheduled for completion by the end of May 2015.

John and María researching and cataloguing Carter watercolours from the Archaeological Survey work at Beni Hasan (1890-1893) in the new Archive Research Facility

The main focus in recent months, with the assistance of EES Archivist María Rodríguez Rubín, has been to re-examine the 268 EES paintings and to re-catalogue them to the international standards used in the Lucy Gura Archive. Over 245 paintings have now been re-catalogued and will soon be digitized ready for upload online from April 2015. The opportunity of re-cataloguing has also been used to highlight those items requiring further conservation, and protecting these in acid-free envelopes through which they can be viewed without damage. All of the Society’s paintings will soon be re-housed as part of the 2013-14 Amelia Edwards Project supported by members last year.

Once both collections are separately available online, the next stage will be to produce an interconnected database so that the areas of overlap (such as site, artist, or subject) can be quickly observed by researchers. Alongside this development another project, beginning at The Griffith Institute in February 2015, is underway to virtually reproduce the original plates from The Archaeological Survey publication of the tomb of Djehutyhotep at El-Bersheh and overlay original watercolours by Howard Carter and others. It is hoped that these digital ‘pop-up’ plates will also be done for the reports of Beni Hasan. The hunting and fishing in the marsh scenes from the east wall of the tomb of Khnumhotep II at Beni Hasan promises to be particularly stunning.

A hoopoe bird by Howard Carter now kept in the EES Lucy Gura Archive. The original painting can be seen in the tomb of Khnumhotep II at Beni Hasan. This painting was conserved by Society members during the 2012-13 Amelia Edwards Project.

A selection of individual hieroglyphic signs painted by Howard Carter from the tombs at Beni Hasan, and now kept in the EES Lucy Gura Archive.

The EES watercolours will soon be available to view and search online via the new Library and Archive catalogue: 

Further details about John and Lee’s project at The Griffith Institute is available on their website, as well as a sample catalogue of watercolours: