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SAYER, Robert. Ruins of Athens, with Remains and other valuable Antiquities in Greece, London, Robert Sayer, MDCCLIX [=1759].

The European vision of Greece in the 18th century creates an imaginary realm; the clearest expression of this outlook are the sixty plates by Jean David Le Roy (1758), the French architect and professor of the Academy of Architecture during forty years, a work created in competition to James Stuart and Nicholas Revett’s work. For Le Roy, everything is permitted in representation, as the subject is more important than the picture and emotion superior to depiction, in accordance with the aesthetic principles of the time.

The adaptation of Le Roy’s work into English by R. Sayer retains little from the former’s text, but enriches the edition with a historical note on modern and ancient Athens, explanatory texts for each plate and excerpts from G. Wheler’s work. In Sayger’s copper engravings the monuments represented are mingled with each other in a fashion even more striking than in Le Roy’s plates, thereby composing imaginary landscapes. Images are documented by extracts from ancient literature. This unusual and rare edition was later reprinted with coloured engravings.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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