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PERILLA, F[rancesco]. Mistra. Histoires franques-byzantines-catalanes en Grèce = notes d’art et de voyages. Dessins-aquarelles-photogrohies de l’auteur, Athens, Éditions Perilla [1929].

Little is known about the life of Francesco Perilla except that he was Italian, born in 1874, and that he spent several years in Athens. Around 1930 he published there books based mainly on his paintings of various places in Greece (Mystras, the Cyclades, Chios, the Peloponnese, Pelion, Mount Athos, Athens, Attica, etc.). All his works are illustrated with images in numerous techniques, photographs, sketches, pastels, etc. Thanks to the spontaneity of his amateur snapshots, the innovative aesthetics and modernist notions of beauty, Perilla’s depictions of historical monuments are consistent with the artistic trends of the time.

The present edition, illustrated with wood engravings and reproductions of watercolours, begins with a history of the Franks in the Byzantine Empire. It continues with a tour in places where the remnants of Western presence coexist with other monuments. The map at the end of the volume outlines the author’s itinerary in the regions of Lake Copais, where there was a battle against the Catalans, Hosios Loukas and Livadeia, from Athens to Nauplion, Arcadia and Monemvasia. The journey continues with a trip from Corinth to Patras and Andravida, and from Cyparissia to Mani, and ends in Mystras. In that location, Perilla describes in eloquent style the Peribleptos and the Pantanassa churches, the palace of the despot, the fortress, the metropolis church and the Vrontochion monastery. He exalts Late Byzantine art as well as the landscape, in perfect harmony with the monuments. Thus, the memories of the Frankish, Catalan and Byzantine presence in the area go hand in hand with the author’s thoughts and notes on art and travels.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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