Illustrated London News

“The countenance is noble and benevolent in expression,” reads the news story accompanying this sketch of a proper Victorian gentleman and his lady gazing in awe at a great stone bull in the British Museum. Published on October 26, 1850, the sketch was one of many relating to Layard’s dig to appear in the Illustrated London News, a popular news magazine of the day and one of the first British periodicals to include engravings of the Assyrian finds.

The news story continues with a clinical description of the statue: “The features are of true Persian type: he wears an egg-shaped cap, with three horns, and a cord round the base of it…The elaborately sculptured wings extend over the back of the animal to the very verge of the slab. All the flat surface of the slab is covered in cuneiform inscription; there being 22 lines between the forelegs, 21 lines in the middle, 19 lines between the hind legs and 47 lines between the tail and the edge of the slab…” Although the Victorian newspaper could not have known it, the inscription included a standard description of the king’s titles, ancestry and achievements.