[HAYGARTH, William. Collection of 120 original sketches of Greek landscape made in 1810-1811.]
William Haygarth (1782- 1825/30) was an English poet, writer and artist. He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1805 and in 1810 obtained a traveling fellowship from the university and departed for a protracted journey to Greece. He travelled widely in the Greek lands from August 1810 to January 1811, meeting and dining with Byron in Athens. Influenced by the classicist spirit of his time, which dominated Arts and Letters in Britain, as well as fascinated by his experience of arduous travelling in Greece (in the Ionian Islands, Pindos, Central Greece, Attica and the Saronic Gulf, and the Peloponnese), and with even deeper philhellenic sentiments, he composed a unique poetic and pictorial work, in which he describes the Greek landscape and its glorious antiquities, but also genre elements of the living culture.
He composed an approximately 2400-line poem, which was for the most part written in Athens. Although overshadowed by the work of Byron, his verses, together with detailed comments and references in his diary, as well as his series of sketches in pencil and wash, (mainly brown and sometimes blue), enhance Haygarth as one of the most interesting travellers to Greece. In his notes he refers to Strabo, Thucydides, Apollonius Rhodius, Herodotus, Homer, Aeschylus, Pausanias, Sophocles, as well as Gibbon, Abbé Barthélemy and others, while commentaries on his drawings mention also Plutarch, again Strabo and Pausanias, Diogenes Laertius, Demosthenes, Athenaeus, G. Wheler and others. Last, Haygarth makes note of the language debate (the coexistence and tension between vernacular Greek, erudite Greek, ecclesiastical Greek, etc.) and cites a list of European literary works, mainly of the Enlightenment Age, that had been translated into Greek.
With his romantic style, reminiscences, associations and lyricism, in combination with realistic and imaginary elements, absent neither from his pen nor his brush, as he himself writes: “I have ventured to predict in poetry what I certainly should not be so hardy as to foretell in prose – the moral regeneration of Greece”.
Booth, Christopher Charles. John Haygarth, FRS (1740-1827): A Physician of the Enlightenment. American Philosophical Society (1 January 2005). p. 139.
Randel, William. "William Haygarth: Forgotten Philhellene", Keats-Shelley Journal Vol. 9, Part 2 (Autumn, 1960), pp. 86-90.
Stoneman, Richard. A Luminous Land: Artists Discover Greece. Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 1998, p. 163.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou
Nicolas Nicolaides contributed to this entry.