British Museum

Nimrud-on-the-Tigris. King Ashurnasirpal’s spectacular capital provides the backdrop for shepherds relaxing on the riverbank and boaters drifting by. The dreamy cityscape, which combines Assyrian, Persian, Greco-Roman and purely imaginary architectural details, includes a stepped ziggurat (at left) and palace buildings (at right). The watercolor was published in 1849 in Layard’s Monuments of Nineveh—a more elaborately illustrated, more expensive and much larger (elephant folio) follow-up to his popular book, The Remains of Nineveh (compare with photo of Monuments of Nineveh).

The careful documentation of Layard’s findings in these heavily illustrated books, along with the British Museum’s exhibition, endowed his “biblical finds” with an air of scientific respectability.