Sir Robert Ainslie

In 1803, the British Consulate for Wallachia and Moldova was created. It was accountable to the Embassy in Constantinople. In the same year, Great Britain gained free access to the Black Sea basin.

Dating from the 18th century there are various accounts by British travellers (diplomats, traders, freelancers, doctors, naturalists, teachers and military personnel) about the Romanian Principalities. Between 1724 and 1791 a total of 16 visitors was recorded, principally in the region of Moldavia, while between 1792 and 1803, during the time of the Eastern Question, the number rose to 24, mostly in Wallachia, where they went as diplomats from Constantinople (such as Sir Robert Liston, Sir Robert Ainslie) or high-ranking officers on missions (General George Frederick Koehler, Colonel William Cavendish Bentinck etc.), businessmen (Thomas Thornton, James Jackson etc.).

One such traveller was Luigi Mayer, an Italian painter of Jewish origins who accompanied Sir Robert Ainslie, the British ambassador to the Porte (1776-1794); he is the creator of a series of drawings inspired by the trip to Wallachia in 1794, which led to a number of engravings (by William Watts and Thomas Milton) printed in albums, at the beginning of the 19th century.