Sir Austen Henry Layard (lɛərd; 5 March 1817 – 5 July 1894) was an English Assyriologist, traveller, cuneiformist, art historian, draughtsman, collector, politician and diplomat. He was born to a mostly English family in Paris and largely raised in Italy. He is best known as the excavator of Nimrud and of Nineveh, where he uncovered a large proportion of the Assyrian palace reliefs known, and in 1851 the library of Ashurbanipal. Most of his finds are now in the British Museum. He made a large amount of money from his best-selling accounts of his excavations.
He had a political career between 1852, when he was elected as a Member of Parliament, and 1869, holding various junior ministerial positions. He was then made ambassador to Madrid, then Constantinople, living much of the time in a palazzo he bought in Venice. During this period he built up a significant collection of paintings, which due to a legal loophole he had as a diplomat, he was able to extricate from Venic