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The Art of African Exploration
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Artistic skill was an important tool in an explorer’s kit in the days before modern photography. Expeditions to Africa often included an artist to record the landscapes, wildlife, and peoples encountered on the journey.

In 1854 the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in London advised travelers to carry everything from a sextant and compass to drawing materials and paints. The traveler’s goal was to make “imperfectly known countries” better known. Recording their observations through sketches, journals, and maps was an essential part of the journey.

Drawing upon his experiences in Africa, scientist Francis Galton expanded on the RGS’s advice with a wealth of practical tips in his book The Art of Travel (1855). The book proved popular with armchair travelers and seasoned explorers alike. The intrepid British explorer and scholar Sir Richard Francis Burton carried a copy during his own travels in Africa.

Falls of the Pangany off the left bank

Sir Richard Francis Burton was a skilled artist with a recognizable style. Versions of many of his travel sketches were included in his published works. This one appears in his book Zanzibar.
  Falls of the Panga-ni River

From the book Zanzibar: City, Island, and Coast
 
Africa: Unknown Parts,  Image number:fG1019C33-1808-DET-2-MattFlynn
Africa: Unknown Parts
A map from John Cary's 1808 world atlas showing the African continent's uncharte...
Map of African Literature,  Image number:SIL28-273-01
Map of African Literature
A map showing the personalities who explored Africa and the paths they took thro...
 Image number:SIL28-285-01

Frontispiece illustration in the 4th edition of Francis Galton's The Art of Trav...
The art of travel: or, Shifts and contrivances available in wild countries,  Image number:SIL28-285-02
The art of travel: or, Shifts and contrivances available in wild countries
Galton's Art of Travel proved very popular: eight editions were published during...
African Swimming Ferry,  Image number:SIL28-285-03
African Swimming Ferry
The illustration depicts a mode of transporting people and goods across rapid ri...
Tent Pitched over an Excavation,  Image number:SIL28-285-04
Tent Pitched over an Excavation
The pit provides protection in inclement weather, or a place for storage....
 Image number:SIL28-286-01

Thomas Baines was a talented artist, well known for his paintings of Victoria Fa...
 Image number:SIL28-286-02

A signed page from Baines' journal....
 Image number:SIL28-286-03

Hollow gourds tied together were used as flotation devices; here Baines sketches...
 Image number:SIL28-286-04

The hurried sketch at the bottom of the page depicts an enounter with a herd of ...
 Image number:SIL28-286-05

Here Baines illustrates how he set up his tent after discovering rats dwelling b...
 Image number:SIL28-286-06

A method of elevated storage devised to keep the rats away from his goods; Baine...
Campement près de Boungué - 16 février 1904 - Congo,  Image number:SIL28-287-01
Campement près de Boungué - 16 février 1904 - Congo
H. Letrillard St. Elme was a chief officer of the French Congo native police. H...
Camp. de Boungué - Camp des Sénégalais - 27 février 1904 - Congo,  Image number:SIL28-287-02
Camp. de Boungué - Camp des Sénégalais - 27 février 1904 - Congo
H. Letrillard St. Elme was a chief officer of the French Congo native police. H...
Un coin du village de Mobongou - 22 février 1904 - Haut-Congo,  Image number:SIL28-287-03
Un coin du village de Mobongou - 22 février 1904 - Haut-Congo
H. Letrillard St. Elme was a chief officer of the French Congo native police. H...
The ivory porter,  Image number:SIL28-289-01
The ivory porter
Frontispiece of Richard Burton's 1860 publication, The Lake Regions of Central A...
Congo knives,  Image number:SIL28-291-01
Congo knives
Bailey, also known as Bula N'zau, was an adventurer and big game hunter. Severa...
View of Stanley Pool..., 14th May 1886; Chief's house..., 21st May 1886,  Image number:SIL28-291-02
View of Stanley Pool..., 14th May 1886; Chief's house..., 21st May 1886
Bailey, also known as Bula N'zau, was an adventurer and big game hunter. Severa...
Impalla; Ivory pestals, war horns, Malufu cup - Congo River,  Image number:SIL28-291-03
Impalla; Ivory pestals, war horns, Malufu cup - Congo River
Bailey, also known as Bula N'zau, was an adventurer and big game hunter. Severa...
Stanley Pool..., 4th Feb. 1886,  Image number:SIL28-291-04
Stanley Pool..., 4th Feb. 1886
Bailey, also known as Bula N'zau, was an adventurer and big game hunter. Severa...
Bangala. Congo spears.,  Image number:SIL28-291-05
Bangala. Congo spears.
Bailey, also known as Bula N'zau, was an adventurer and big game hunter. Severa...
Native hut & garden; Stanley Pool from flagstaff on hill...; Kalina Point & Brazzaville...,  Image number:SIL28-291-06
Native hut & garden; Stanley Pool from flagstaff on hill...; Kalina Point & Brazzaville...
Bailey, also known as Bula N'zau, was an adventurer and big game hunter. Severa...
Savage of the Nyika,  Image number:SIL28-308-01
Savage of the Nyika
From Burton's book Zanzibar: City, Island, and Coast, based on the author's orig...
Mombasah fort,  Image number:SIL28-308-03
Mombasah fort
From Burton's book Zanzibar: City, Island, and Coast, based on the author's orig...
Fuga, Capital of Usumbara,  Image number:SIL28-308-04
Fuga, Capital of Usumbara
From Burton's book Zanzibar: City, Island, and Coast, based on the author's orig...
Savage of the Nyika,  Image number:SIL28-314-01
Savage of the Nyika
Richard Francis Burton was a skilled artist wiith a recognizable style. Versions...
Fuga, Capital of Usambara,  Image number:SIL28-315-01
Fuga, Capital of Usambara
Richard Francis Burton was a skilled artist wiith a recognizable style. Versions...
 
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