Collection Index :

Introduction to the Collection

Cartographers in the Collection

Collections & Interests

Collection of Antique Prints and Engravings (16thc – 19th c) Central Eastern Europe

Habsburg Empire, Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire ( Turkey in Europe)
the Principalities of Transylvania, Moldavia & Wallachia (present-day Romania

The Philosophy of the Collection :

Portrait of Prince Dimitrie Cantemir by Claude Vignon

No single person could better represent the philosophy of this Collection than Prince Dimitrie Cantemir. Born in Moldavia, educated in Istanbul, to become a true Renaissance figure Cantemir spoke and wrote fluently in several languages, was ennobled by the Tzar after the battle of the Pruth in 1711 and became a member of the Berlin Academy . Cantemir’s scholarly treatise on the History of the Ottoman Empire remained for 200 years a crucial reference book, used by Gibbon, Byron and Shelley and read by Churchill.

Dimitrie’s son, Antiochus, was the first Russian poet and was appointed the Tzar’s envoy to London, where he translated and printed his father’s books.

For over 400 years since the conquest of Constantinople, the continuous wars between the Ottomans and the Habsburgs, followed by the Russian-Ottoman wars changed the fortunes of empires. Yet in the midst of this maelstrom, in this Balkan alembic, the cross-fertilization of ideas produced some extraordinary characters, who led armies, changed borders, encouraged the emancipation of nations, explored the mosaic of a multi-ethnic society and attracted the attention of painters and engravers from Western Europe from the earliest map makers to the classic 18th and 19th century writers and artists.

It is hoped that such multi-faceted aspects, described by Cantemir in his oeuvre, are reflected in the themes of these engravings, whether depicting costumes, buildings, scenery, townscapes, battle scenes, military leaders, or political borders.

This wide-embracing ethos helped coalesce over a period of three decades the body of this Collection.

Constantin Roman

The Collector :

Constantin Roman is born in Romania and educated in Bucharest and Cambridge. Since childhood his interest in Arts is stimulated by his maternal grandmother’s collection of paintings, dispersed under the Communist regime. At the same time he studied the collection of old engravings and prints of the Biblioteca Centrala Universitara in Bucharest (formerly Fundatia Regele Carol I) burnt in December 1989, by the Securitate.

From early childhood Constantin wanted to become an architect, but the positive discrimination meted out by the Communist regime after the Hungarian revolution of 1956, caused him to choose instead a career in Science. Ever since he kept a keen interest in History of Art and Architecture that is reflected in the current Collection.

Constantin ROMAN qualified with a Masters in Geophysics from the University of Bucharest. After graduation, he was invited to England, where he applied for and obtained several scholarships, in the United States, Canada and England amongst which a Research Scholarship from Peterhouse, Cambridge.

He graduated from Cambridge with a PhD in Plate Tectonics under the late Professor Sir Edward Bullard, FRS. Roman joined the exploration teams of major American oil companies in London, at the time of the first discoveries in the North Sea. He subsequently embarked on a career as an independent consultant to Industry and Governments, on world-wide projects. www.celticpetroleum.com

This offered him the opportunity to travels and pursue his passion for collecting items of Romanian interest, which form the present-day collection.
16C Italian Woodcut of Wallachia

After the fall of Ceausescu regime, he returned for a brief spell to the University of Bucharest as Visiting Professor. In 1997, in recognition of his contribution to Romanian Seismo-Tectonics Dr Roman was awarded the degree of Professor Honoris Causa of the University of Bucharest and President of Romania, Emil Constantinescu (1996-2000) named him a Personal Adviser (Energy and Natural Resources). In 2000 The Institute of Physics Publishers (Bristol and Philadelphia) printed “Continental Drift, Colliding Continents, Converging Cultures” which charts Constantin Roman’s career and contribution to Earth Sciences as well as his Cultural forays . In 2002 Professor Roman was invested with the Order of Merit (Culture) with the grade of Commander.

Constantin ROMAN is a British subject and currently lives in London.

History of the Collection:

The Collector bought his first prints whilst a postgraduate student in Cambridge, in the early 1970's, when very few people were interested in the subject and prices were accessible. Over the following thirty years, as a Geophysicist, he had the opportunity to travel extensively and added substantially to his collection, mostly from dealers in England, France and Holland. His particular interest concentrated on images from the Ottoman Empire in Europe, with emphasis on Wallachia and Moldavia (the Lower Danube and the Carpathians) as well as the Eastern part of the Habsburg Empire, (the Principality of Transylvania). Auxiliary themes of a wider regional interest (Polish, Russian, Balkan, Hungarian, Austrian, Turkish) are also present.

Subject Matter:

The subject of the collection has a strong topographical interest. It consists of maps (including plans of battles and strategic fortifications), views (landscapes and townscapes), costumes, portraits of historical characters, scenes of social and political interest, architectural / natural monuments, political cartoons of the 19th century, etc. Breakdown of the Collection in main themes and epoch:

16C 17C 18C 19C 20C Unattrib Sub Total


0 13 7 33 0 11 64

0 0 15 35 0 32 82

7 16 33 8 0 4 68

0 4 19 21 0 0 44

0 0 0 23 1 0 24

0 1 4 15 2 0 22

0 0 0 0 24 0 24

0 0 0 13 0 18 31

0 3 13 11 0 8 35

0 0 0 0 0 99 99









Comments: Rare Items, Oddities and Famous Artists

  • 18th c manuscript field map of Eugene of Savoya (Habsburg-Ottoman) battle
  • Engravings by the great Romanian painter Theodore Aman
  • Sketch of historic Downtown Bucharest
  • Drawings for the test exams at the school of Architecture, Bucharest
  • Political cartoons of the Russian-Turkish wars by Daumier, Cham,
    W. Heath
  • Plans of 17th and 18th century battles of Habsburg-Ottoman and Ottoman-Russian military engagements and plans of fortifications
  • Portraits of Princes Dimitrie Cantemir, Antiochus Cantemir, Eugene of Savoya and Brancovan
  • French Cartoon of Countess Anna de Noailles (nee Princess Brancovan) and Gabriel D’Annunzio
  • 3D perspective map of the Black sea (19th c)
  • 17th and 18th centuries Russian, Hungarian and Swedish and Dutch prints
  • Share certificates of Romanian oil fields (and of Caucasus)
  • 18th c military uniforms of Romanian regiments in the Habsburg Army
  • 19th c Greek Independence battle of the Etheria fighters against the Turks
  • Hungarians at Ovid’s tomb (1791)
  • Some Artists - Daumier, Raffet, Bouquet, Lancelot, Preziosi, Turner, Theodore Aman, Claude Vignon, Pierre Francois Basa, Emile-Louis Vernier, Auguste Alexandre Hirsch, WH Bartlett, Valerio, P.F. Tardieu, Schlotterbeck, Cham, William Heath, F. Sorrieu,
  • Some Map Makers - Homann, Ortelius, Mercator, De Fer, Ruscelli, Merian, Munster, Lotter, Moll, Hondius, Probst, Valk, Schenk, Castaldo, sanson, Stackhouse, Winter, La Feuille.
Austrian Military Dress Hungarians at Ovid's Tomb "Raptus Virgiinus"

UNATTRIBUTTED ITEMS: other than the 99 framed pictures discussed above, once they would get a specific date will give a more accurate idea about the exact age structure of the collection, perhaps with a greater weight on the 18th century.

About half of the unattributed items represent the 99 framed pictures which are mosttly 19th century views of the Danube, Bucharest and the provinces as well as many costumes. There are some 18th century military uniforms of Romanian regiments in the Austrian army and a few maps. Most of the framed prints are French, English and German with some Hungarian and Austrian engravings and a few drawings and sketches.

There is a certain overlap amongst the themes. For example:

  • The BLACK SEA will include maps as well as views of ports
  • The CARTOONS will have military themes and Royalty
  • The COSTUMES will include some 18th c Royals
  • The DANUBE will have views of ports as well as Military fortifications and some battles
  • The FINANCE will have share certificates of oil companies with pictures of oil fields, and costumes and the bank notes the head of king Carol II
  • The MAPS will have extensive coverage of the Danube and the Black Sea as well as plans od Military
  • The MILITARY will have coverage of Royalty and plans of battles along the Danube
  • The ROYALS will have some views of events attended by Royalty in Bucharest and elsewhere
  • The VIEWS would have some scenes of the Danube, of Bucharest and of costumes
  • The FRAMED PICTURES would have only a few maps and Military costumes with a majority of views of the Danube, and Bucharest and especially costumes and views of architectural monuments
  • DUPLICATES: There would be some framed pictures of views and costumes which are also in the files of unframed engravings – probably no more than 3% of the total items. However amongst the few maps which appear to be duplicates they may have a different original hand colour applied
"HORA" the wallachian village dance, after a painting by Theodore Aman 19C French Cartoon of the
Russian-Ottoman War

Structure of the Collection:

The collection of just over 500 items encompasses a variety of woodcuts, steel/copper engravings, mezzotints, lithographs, and some RARE ITEMS such as original manuscrpt maps, drawings and artist’s editions . Perhaps the most interesting item represents the framed 18th century manuscript map on Parchment of the battle between the Austrian Armies under the command of General prince Eugene of Savoya and the Ottoman armies in the 18th century, on the Danube valley, near Timisoara. Equally important are the Paris engravings of the great classic Romanian artist Theodore Aman, whose paintings are found in the National Museum in Bucharest and in the Aman memorial House.

Ninety-Nine items are framed, whilst the remainder of some 400 engravings are mounted on non-acid cardboard and protected by a transparent non-acid overlay. Presently there is an preliminary catalogue, in first draft which needs to be completed with regards to the exact date and source attribution, artist biographies and full descriptive of each print. .

Presently there is a preliminary catalogue, which needs to be further refined with regards to the exact date and source attribution, artist biographies and full descriptive of each print. Artists and Sources:

Artists and Sources:

Prior to the 19th century these provinces of the Austrian and Turkish Empires were not on the Grand Tour and due to the ongoing wars they did not attract the interest of major artists who would produce engravings of views and costumes. There were of course exceptions - the occasional travellers to Istanbul crossing Wallachia in the 17th and 18th centuries, but they were not accompanied by artists to make a sketch of the lands they crossed (Lady
Mary Wortley Montague). From a political point of view, however the area was surveyed by all major European cartographers. The constant change in frontiers between the Turkish, Austrian, Prussian and Russian empires is reflected in this very area of our collection. As such the prints have a wealth of information on the Austrian Turkish battles of the 17th and 18th centuries (i.e. Prince Eugene of Savoya’s) or the Russian-Turkish battles of the 18th and 19th centuries. There are, nevertheless, a few notable artists prior to the 19th century (Haugenberg, Redinger), who depicted Romanian scenes such as cities, battle scenes or horses.

In the wake of major European conflagrations (i.e. Crimean War of 1856, the Russian-Turkish war of 1877, even the Greek war of Independence), scores of artists were expedited to the Romanian Principalities to gather intelligence. Their work enables us today to enjoy some wonderful examples of engravings. Daumier, Raffet, Bouquet, Lancelot, Preziosi, Turner and the Romanian Theodore Aman produced rich series of plates on this subject. The Illustrated London News magazine and the French L'Illustration also often covered either political or travel stories which contained engravings. The Crimean War of 1856 and the Russian-Turkish war of 1877 had graphic coverage in the 19th century European press, either with battle scenes or political cartoons (Daumier), of which the Collection has many good examples.

Interest of the Collection: TRANS-DISCIPLINARY

(History of Art, Architecture, Geography, Ethnography, Cultural Studies, History of Russian, Turkish and Habsburg Empires, Military History)

The cartouche of a large
18C Russian map in the collection
A Russian engraving showing the HQ of Prince Souvoroff, at the Negoeshti Monastery during his Wallachian Campaign

The Deputy keeper of the Prints Collection of a major Museum in London had inspected this collection in the Spring of 1994 and registered an interest in it. A second visit by two curators of the same Museum followed in 2001, on which occasion they acknowledged both the intrinsic artistic and academic value as well as the cohesive character and effort put into it, over a period of three decades.

From a prima facie evidence it seems that this collection is not matched by similar efforts in the public domain, either in Romania, or elsewhere. The late Professor's Oprescu's collection given to the Romanian Academy Prints Department has some beautiful examples of watercolours and sketches, some by Count Prezziosi, but does not overlap with our prints. Prince Nicholas of Romania's collection of maps has been dispersed soon after the Second World War. The Victoria and Albert's Museum in London, also has not got this material although it covers immediately adjacent areas, such as the Levant and the Middle East, through the recent acquisition of a collection from a retired Shell executive.

For more information and access to pictures of the ENTIRE collection, please contact me via email.

Constantin Roman © 2001. All Rights Reserved.
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