WILLOUGHBY, Vera. A Vision of Greece described and painted by Vera Willoughby, London, Philip Allan, 1925.
The painter Vera Willoughby (1870-1939) was born in Hungary and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in Bloomsbury, Central London. She is famous for her personal life, regarded as eccentric at the time, and for the posters she designed for the London Underground during the years 1928-1935.
This impressive edition with innovative illustrations was published in a small number of copies. In the introduction, the author and artist, who also illustrated various books (by Jane Austen, Horace, Catullus, etc.), stresses that she views modern Greece as a vision, which still holds within it the transparent, sparkling intoxication of the nectar that was Hellas. Accordingly, the text travels in an eloquent poetic discourse to the ancient sacred sites: Athens – Marathon – Delphi – Olympia – Corinth – Mycenae – Tiryns – Aegina – Knossos. Some chapters, such as those on Delphi and Corinth, are composed in an original manner, in the form of a theatrical dialogue.
Willoughby is above all captivated by the natural beauty and the myths, and embellishes her chapters with related images. Her views, in subtle colours, convey all the sweetness of the landscape. The vignettes copy details from ancient Greek vases in a modern fashion. Finally, the mythological images, in vivid colours, allude to the passions that came alive in the enchanting and dazzling world of the boundless Greek spirit. Nature and myth embrace with discourse in a completely modern work. Rather than travel literature, this is a literature of mental journeys in which the artwork aims to impress and capture the reader’s imagination.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou