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William Page was born in London and studied at the Royal Academy from 1812 and exhibited there from 1816. Otherwise little is known of his early life. Presumably in 1817, Page left London for an extended tour to Greece and Turkey via Switzerland, with Lady Ruthven (1789 – 1885) and her brother William Campbell (1793 – 1821), who were cousins of Lady Elgin’s and thus would have heard at first hand the Elgin’s accounts of their time in the region. They were in Athens by 1818.
The Italian artist Giovanni Battista Lusieri wrote to his patron Lord Elgin from Athens on 7th May 1819 that Page ’has much talent…. and has made a quantity of drawings which will bring him much honour’ (Elgin Family archive, quoted in Aidan Weston-Lewis, Expanding Horizons: Giovanni Battista Lusieri and the Panoramic Landscape, 2012, p.185, note 82). Page continued to Constantinople where he arrived in May 1821. In the spring of 1821, the Greek war of Independence broke out, which cut Page’s trip short. Views in the album of Corfu, Zante and Ithaca suggest they travelled home via the west coast of Greece. Campbell died in Corfu in the summer of 1821 having contracted a fever. They then likely crossed to Southern Italy, perhaps visiting Naples and Pisa on their way north. This previously unrecorded album is a fascinating record of Page’s trip. Apart from the many Greek and Turkish views, it gives us an insight into Page’s route there through Switzerland which has never previously been recorded. The grouping of subjects suggest that he travelled one way on a more northern route via Fribourg, Berne, lake Brienz, the Lauerzer Zee and Engelberg, and perhaps on the way back via the Simplon Pass, the Valais Region and Geneva.