The first appearances of Athens in travel chronicles and their illustration are scarce and far apart, almost shy. Athens is hardly present in early printed travel accounts. However, the ancient monuments of Athens become object of study already in the 15th century, with Ciriaco Pizzecolli Anconitano, that “lonely, singular kind of traveller”. At the same time there are those historical and geographic works such as H. Schedel's (1493), which, with abundant imagination and little adherence to realism, contribute to theoretical knowledge and fuel readers' curiosity for faraway lands. The city appears as a destination on 16th century travellers' itineraries, although they rarely seek to visit it. In fact, down tol the 17th century, Athens is more than anything alive only in the thought of Western scholars, who from the Renaissance onwards were interested in the study of ancient Greek literature and philosophy and later in Greco-Roman art. From 1674-75 however, Athens abruptly becomes more present in European thought, as can be concluded by detailed maps of the city and other topographical data, and from an exchange of texts denoting an ever-increasing interest in the city. A group of travellers, scientists, writers, Jesuits, Capuchin, historians and consuls such as A.G. Guillet (1675), J. Spon (1678) and G. Wheler (1682) engage in a round of debates and personal accounts of Athens. This discussion in fact announces the symbolic link between Athens and Europe which will be established later on, and the incorporation of Greek history and geography into the notion of European hegemony, a notion pertinent until today.
Ciriaco Pizzecolli Anconitano's early drawings of the Parthenon convey on the whole an imaginary, impersonal city, more recognizable in the accompanying text than in the text woven by the image itself (H. Schedel, N. Gerbelius). In 1545, German humanist N. Gerbelius published an accompanying text to the map of Nicolaos Sophianos, (also published the mid-16th century). Gerbelius illustrates his texts with views of cities and other locations connected to place names on the map. The imaginary representation of Athens, congruent with artistic conventions of the era, attempts to convey the grandeur of ancient monuments. The work by A. Thevet in the 16th century (1556), includes a drawing of ancient Athenian statues and other archaeological findings. However, it is disputed whether the French monk actually ever travelled to Athens himself. G. De La Chapelle (1648?) created remarkable depictions of women of the East, set against the background of well-known sightsand monuments of Istanbul.
The next stage is an intermediary state (A.G. Guillet), where representation seeks for Athens but is reluctant to face up to its ignorance, or to create knowledge on the city. J. Spon's journey, and his account thereof, as well as G. Wheler's partly plagiarised account of the same trip shock western scholarly knowledge of Athens like a bolt of lightning down from Olympus. J. Spon, who inaugurated the archaeological study of Athens, enriched his account (1678) with a few drawings of the standing monuments in the Acropolis area, an important topographical map of the surrounding area, and depictions of some other antiquities. These drawings, albeit rudimentary, constitute the earliest renderings of the main Athenian monuments. The Dutch edition of J. Spon's work (1689) includes illustrations of the places visited by Spon and George Wheler, which aim to recreate scenes from the two travellers' explorations.
Information propagates with amazing speed, as can be noticed in the editions by the Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti in Venice, founded by V.M. Coronelli. This workshop produced hundreds of engravings showing Venice's victories in the Ottoman-Venetian war (1684-1687). Copies of these drawings, either identical or with variations, have been included in the reprints and translations of Coronelli's works since then. In addition, they accompany historical treatises and geographic works. The V.M. Coronelli edition of 1687 includes a map of Athens area and one more map, probably borrowed from Spon's work. The V. M. Coronelli edition of 1688 includes various subjects and views of Athens, many of which are copied from contemporary works. The engravings in the 1708 works by V. M. Coronelli are highly appealing, although most plates repeat subjects already published in earlier editions of the Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti. The editions by J. Enderlin include copies of engravings found in earlier or nearly contemporary popular works (1686). The plates in the work by J. Sandrart (1687) show castles and other location, in their majority under Ottoman rule. Several similar works which highlight the victories of the Venetians against the Ottomans in the Sixth Ottoman-Venetian War (1684-1699) were released during the same period. The editions by J. Peeters in the late 17th century (1686 and 1690) also exalt the victories of the Holy League in the Ottoman-Venetian wars. The plates show cities, ports and other locations in Austria, Southeastern Europe, the eastern Mediterranean and places in Asia all the way to India and Saudi Arabia. The bombardment of the Parthenon, the most significant ancient monument of antiquity, in 1687 causes dismay, leading scholars and humanists to a posteriori seek the unity and wholeness of the ancient temple, by now lost forever (Fr. Fanelli, 1707).
In summary, the bombardment of Athens during Morosini's siege of the Ottoman-held city in 1687, the delineation of the monuments by the travellers who introduced neoclassicism in Europe, the meticulous recording, measurement and study of antiquities and, last but not least, the supposed rescuing of sculptures from an eventual Ottoman vandalism are among the major chapters of Athenian history, determinant of the city's future.
At the same time, very remarkable collections of ancient art works from Athens are formed, mainly on behalf of individual people rather than institutions, although several of these collections were later housed in the major museums of European cities. This collectionism acquires the dimensions of a veritable movement or social phenomenon, as it is inscribed in the effort to recuperate and reappropriate the ancient Greek past. We are thus before an epidemic of antiquity hunting, as the ends of a classical ideal, model for the new philosophical perception of the world come to justify the means of acquiring antiquities by pillaging (P.M. Paciaudi in 1761).
However, the 18th century is the time of Greek renaissance, of which foreign visitors become aware. They discuss this issue and believe in the forecoming reconstitution of Greece. The turbulence caused by the French Revolution, of which the Greeks become aware through several channels, and the withering of the Ottoman Empire aid the Greek cause. The systematic observation of modern Greek culture and nationality, as well as the transmission of the radical transformation taking place in Greek society and leading towards independence to the European public are to a large extent the work of travellers, who have first-hand experience of the forging of national concience, the most crucial factor in the reconstitution of the Greeks, a process which culminated during the Revolution.
From the mid-18th century onwards the antiquities of Athens attract a vivd interest. Visitors depict them at times accurately and systematically, at others naively, or just by copying earlier works (Ch. Perry in 1743, R. Pococke in 1745, R. Dalton in 1751-52, Al. Drummond in 1754). Athens provides artistic inspiration to express the European vision of Greece in general. Paintings by French architect D. Le Roy are lacking in exactitude but follow the aesthetic conventions of the time. Le Roy himself is convinced that everything is permitted in representation, that subject is more important than the image itself and emotion takes precedence over exact depiction. The English edition of Le Roy's work (R. Sayer in 1759) was enriched by explanatory texts and extracts from the popular chronicle by George Wheler (1682). Le Roy had to face the incisive but well-founded criticism of British architects J. Stuart and N. Revett. Nevertheless Le Roy's work (1770) greatly influenced the art and architecture of the time.
J. Seller was the creator of the first detailed mapping of the Mediterranean coast, titled “English Pilot...” . First published in the 17th century, it was repeatedly reissued and continued to be used down to the 19th century (here in the 1771 edition). Seller's works established the use of the English language in maritime charts and greatly influenced later cartographic editions. It includes maps of the local coastlines.
J.J. Barthélemy achieved a fictional recreation of the ancient world, doubling as travel narrative. Barthélemy painted an idyllic panorama of antiquity, which is accompanied by Barbié de Bocage's maps and drawings (first edition in 1788, reedition in 1832). This edition, which fuelled the readers' interest for antiquity, includes a map of ancient Athens.
The British James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, members of the society of the Dilettanti, worked hard to meticulously measure and delineate the monuments. Their work, warmly received by the British public, consists of drawings and explanatory texts on the use of the monument, archaeological observations and travel impressions, and inaugurated the new era of European neoclassicism, as from then on detailed measurement replaced the imaginary depiction of monuments. Their highly polished editions (J. Stuart and Ν. Revett in 1762, J. Stuart and Ν. Revett in 1787, J. Stuart and Ν. Revett in 1794, J. Stuart and Ν. Revett in 1816, and French edition of J. Stuart and Ν. Revett in 1808), with aesthetically pleasing plates and accurate measurements of the “Antiquities of Athens”, were enthusiastically received and established the notion of the utmost perfection of Greek art and architecture in European consciousness. The plates illustrating the travel account of Αl. Bisani (1793) are copies of the plates found in the work by Stuart and Revett.
Ch. R. Cockerell (1830) and R. Chandler (1776), were also members of the Dilettante society which aided, organized and realized archaeological expeditions to Greek territories until 1846, and subsequently published their outcomes in monumental volumes. Cockerell made drawings of monuments and architectural details and Chandler drew a map of the area. A map of Athens is included in the Atlas to the travel account by French naturalist G.A. Olivier as well (1801).
It should be noted that in the monumental work by M.G.F.A Choiseul-Gouffier, which expressed the love of antiquity and the philhellenism of the era in new and original fashion, establishing at the same time (around the late 18th and early 19th century) the primacy of image, or graphic representation, in travel chronicles, Athens is depicted in two plates, weak as to their subjects (1822). His secretary J.B. Lechevalier (1799) published tables with ancient Athenian coins. Ancient coins are also included in the work by Danish archaeologist P. Ol. Bröndsted (1830). O.M. von Stackelberg's paintings of folk themes (1831) are impressive; the subjects, but also the posture and movement of the figures are quite novel and diverge from the models established at the time. Stackelberg was a member of a group of Danish, German and British artists, architects and lovers of antiquity who realized archaeological excavations and explorations, and subsequently pillaged the sculptures of two major ancient monuments: the sculptures of the temple of Aphaia on Aegina island and those of the temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae. The 1826 edition by Stackelberg has excellent lithographs of the sculptures of the temple of Apollo, as well as views of the temple and its surrounding area, and also plates of Athens.
he magnificent plates by Ed. Dodwell (1819) provide a wealth of information on public and private life of the Greeks in the pre-revolutionary period. The drawings of W. Black (1822-26) are an invaluable source for the country's history, as they are among the scarce pictures from the era of the Greek Revolution. As with his other works, the British topographer W.M. Leake (1824) provides systematic and detailed archaeological observations. The French diplomat and coin collector E.M. Cousinery illustrated his travel account (1831) with a series of engravings on archaeological subjects, most of which related to modern-day Northern Greece.
Panoramic views of cities were highly popular among the affluent classes of the 19th century. In the big cities the viewers were able to enjoy the spectacle in purpose-built jalls. The panoramas were created by R. Barker. His son, H. A. Barker, continued this profitable entreprise together with R. Burford (1818-1830). During the spectacle, they provided viewers with small pamphlets which contained city maps and annotations.
Important intellectuals travel to the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century. In an accomplished style, they express how they reached a land welcoming their personal myths, describe the blend of antiquity and modernity and carefully record and depict the principal features of Athens. Walking the territory becomes a means of reading the archaeological landscape and to incorporate monuments, history, modern people and accurate information into a whole. Their chronicles achieve an inspired composition of monuments, ruins, temples, landscape, statues, literary citations, poetic associations, inscriptions, myths and fiction. A breeze of Philhellenism nourishes these travellers and fosters the creation of their text accounts and artistic works. In the years preceding the Greek revolution, as the city raises to a highly appealing archaelogical site, symbolically and materially, hundreds of visitors make a pilgrimage mainly to the Acropolis and its monuments, but to other ancient locations as well. There are specialists and scholars of antiquity, but also some analysts of human dynamics (J.S. Bartholdy in 1804, Ed. Dodwell in 1812 και Ed. Dodwell in 1819 as well as Ed.D. Clarke in 1814, J.C.L. Hobhouse in 1813, R. Walpole in 1818 and R. Walpole in 1820, H.W. Inwood in 1827 και T.S. Hughes in 1820, Ch. Deval in 1827), writers (W. Haygarth in 1814) and painters (S. Pomardi in 1820, L. Dupré in 1825-27 O.M. von Stackelberg in 1828, H.W. Williams in 1829), all of which illustrated their chronicles with splendid pictures. T Although most of the plates in Ed. D. Clarke's work (1816) are mainly of archaeological interest, these engravings are also very valuable for the recomposition of the locations' recent history and the uncommon subjects which they show. After his journey in Greek lands, at the begining of the 19th century, Stackelberg was able to render historical locations and antiquities in accordance with the emerging tendency of romanticism (1834). The plates in the work of Ed. Dodwell (1834) show uncommon and original views of less known archaeological sites. Griechenland (1825c) was one of several early 19th-century editions on customs, traditions, costumes and monuments of Greece. The illustrations consisted of plates already published in popular travel accounts of the previous decades. Thus, the views of Athens are copies of works by Edward Dodwell, newly engraved.
The same period sees the publication of highly significant works on Greek antiquities (J.J. Horner in 1823). J. Tweddell died during his stay in Athens and was buried in the temple of Hephaestus (also known as Theseion). Later on, his brother published what had survived of his travel notes (1817). The lithographs by A. -V. Joly (1824) are inspired by earlier similar works and convey the philhellenic spirit of the era.
However, Lord Elgin was the winner in the hunt for Greek antiquities, as he organized the greatest pillaging of ancient sculptures and architectural elements, mostly from Athens, which were later sold to the British Museum and remain there as a precious legacy and sad reminder of antiquity-loving rapacity (Ed.J. Burrow in 1837).
Adam Friedel painted the portraits of politicians and military leaders of the Greek War of Independence, in most cases from life (Ad. Friedel, 1830 and Ad. Friedel, 1832). His works were highly successful and contributed to the Philhellenic Commitees' work of promoting the Greek cause in Europe.
The work of G. Cochrane (1837) is illustrated with pictures of social and religious celebrations, landscapes and famous monuments. These images complete the description of politics and society in the early years of the Greek State given in the text.
In spite of this, the imposing figure of Lord Byron, who through his poetry and the dedication of his life to the Greek cause became a hero of moden Greece, strengthens the hope for liberation which runs through the travellers' accounts (Lord Byron, illustrated edition of his poems in 1849). From then onwards begins a true pilgrimage to the remains of Antiquity. All the elements which constituted the Greek city float in the travellers' quests: The landscape, sea and climate that shaped human mentality and contributed to the creation of an exquisite civilization, which left its seal on the ancient world and laid the foundations of modern world civilization. Interest for antiquities goes hand in hand with concern for the future of modern Greeks. The Revolution and the foundation of the Greek state give a new impulse to travel.
In 1834 Athens becomes the official capital of the newly-founded Greek state, seat of young Otto of Baviers, king of the Greeks. A new capital in the history of the city begins. Although the first urban plan, an inspiration of German and Greek architects and equal to the city's past, never materialized, the city expanded with astounding speed. Close to the neoclassical public buildings, which bring the new capital on a par with European cities, houses multiply and expand on to new neighbourhoods, whereas independent, isolated archaeological sites form around ancient ruins. An interesting panoramic view of Athens was etched by an anonymous German artist in 1834.
After the foundation of the Greek State, the French Expeditions realized an assiduous work of mapping the territory, at the expenses of the Greek state, but also collected original graphic material (J.-P.-Ε.-F. Peytier, 1829-32, 1833-36). The observations made by the members of the Section of Architecture and Sculpture of the French Scientific Mision under G. A. Blouet are accompanied by drawings of excellent technique and high artistic quality. The conclusions of their research and the related graphic material, released in three monumental volumes (1831, 1833, 1838), contributed greatly to the perception of the monuments and constituted a work of reference for all subsequent studies.
An unexpected view from the Acropolis was created by Anne Margaretta Burr (1841). The watercolour on which the plate was based shows how the artist was dazzled by the view to the west of the Acropolis. The drawings of Athenian monuments and Attic landscapes by C.F.T.C. D’Aligny (1843) are quite original, both as to the viewpoint and as to their subjects. The drawings by A.M. Chenavard (1857) constitute an important source on Athenian monuments during the first years of King Otto's reign. The travel account of Victor Godart-Faultrier (1857) is accompanied by a separate album. The excellent lithographs show works of ancient Greek art as well as rarely pictured Byzantine antiquities. The practice of copying illustrations from earlier best-selling works by eminent artists, without always stating that it had been done so, was common in the albums of the 19th century. Album azur Erinnerung an Athen circulated in the mid-19th century with plates copied from the works by Franch artist Théodore du Moncel, even down to small details.
In his work “Grèce” (1835), F.C.H.L. Pouqueville, author of one of the most systematic studies on the geomorphology of continental Greece, mostly borrows views of Athens from popular and significant earlier editions of travel works. Shortly after the Greek revolution, Chr. Wordsworth published a richly illustrated historical narrative on Greece, which appealed widely to the public. In the 1882 reedition there is a wealth of drawings of Athens, executed in a novel artistic style. The same British clergyman wrote another memorable work, which combines philological commentaries with first-hand observation (Chr. Wordsworth, 1836 and Chr. Wordsworth, 1841).
European visitors discuss political events of the time of Otto's arrival and of the anarchy surrounding his eviction. They meet with writers and military men, converse with them and compose the portraits of politicians and other public figures of Athenian society. As travellers mingle with political figures, stay in Athens for a length of time and dedicate themselves to artistic and literary pursuits, a rich treasury of varied material is created (drawings, paintings, poems, biographies and journey accounts). Archaeological sites all over Attica compete for visitors. Politics and ethnography also attract interest, but ultimately natural landscape predominates (J.Skene in 1838-45, Th. Moncel in 1843, Ed. Lear in 1848-49). The drawings, and above all the portraits of artist Fr. Hervé (1837) echo his lively and gracious writing style. Officers of the Bavarian guard, as well as the court entourage and its visitors outline people and space simply and clearly, with benevolent objectivity in their diaries or other works (A.F. Stademann in 1841). Travel chronicles describing the Grand Tour to the East, considered essential to the wealthy Europeans' education and a sign of social status, are illustrated with plates on which the enchanting landscapes of Attica unfold before the reader's eyes (G.N. Wright in 1842, J.H. Allan in 1843, J. comte d’Estourmel in 1848, E. Rey in 1867, R.R. Farrer in 1880). The photographs of eminent British photographer Fr. Bedford (1866) are invaluable testimonies on the state of ancien sites in the mid-19th century. Photographs of Athenian ruins at that moment permit to reconstruct the history of the excavation and restoration of the city's monuments. They also confirm that photographers, together with other artists of the time, are mainly interested in antiquities (H. Beck, 1868). The artistic magazines of the 19th century published plates with views of significant monuments of the East, accompanied by thorough explanatory texts. They sold well, and aimed both at entertaining and educating the public (M. Busch, 1869). The capacity for insight and keen observation evident throughout Henri Belle's text (1881) equally mark the illustrations of his travel account. The Album of 1984 includes rare and very interesting wood engravings taken from the pioneering weekly review “The Illustrated London News” (1842-1885) and the similarly themed magazine “The Graphic” (1869-1885). The plates depict locations, people and events (political, social and military), from 1842 to 1885. The work of J. von Falke (1887 / 2002) is illustrated by exquisite engravings. They show works of ancient Greek art and imaginary depictions of scenes from the public and private life of the ancient Greeks.
A first documented study of Athenian monuments, as they were represented in travel chronicles from the 15th century onwards, sees the light in the mid-19th century (L.-E.-S.-J. de Laborde in 1854). A treatise on history and aesthetics published in the late 19th century also contains significant topographic and archaeological data (A. Boetticher in 1888).
The number of visitors to Athens, as well as their spontaneous urge to illustrate the new face of this living city in the greates possible detail, are simply astounding (A. Schweiger Lerchenfeld in 1887, El. Cabrol in 1890). The prolific Irish scholar J.P. Mahaffy wrote an account of his tour of Greece (1890), illustrated with exquisite wood engravings. The plates were etched from pencil drawings, which in their turn were based on imaginary representations and photographs
In reality, Athens of the 19th and the early 20th century is identified with the history and destiny of modern Greece as a whole. The gradual integration of new territories (northern Greece, Ionian islands and the Cyclades) were strenuous for the people of Greece but also created positive political excitation in Athens. The vivid dialogues in travel accounts convey everyday snapshots with great immediacy, and drawings narrate the tale of the city in a graphic manner. When the state has made the transition from adolescence to adulthood and enters into a new struggle for new territories, its claim to a European identity is received at times with irony, at others with benevolence. The land of the heroes becomes the land of politicians, while the Olympic Games with their multiple impact attract more visitors. Gradually, from the mid-19th century onwards, travel guides become a necessary tool in order to explore and experience the territory. These guides map the cities as well as the archaeological sites (C. Baedeker, 1894). The photographs accompanying the account of S.J. Barrows (1898) focus on recent findings of the archaeological excavations; this shows both how much the author was impressed by the newer archaeological discoveries and the overall importance of these. The French cartoonist H.L. Avelot (1899) made original sketches of people and scenes of everyday life, and created highly innovative material which pushed other artists to create similar illustrations inspired from their travels.
From the second half of the 19th century onwards, the modalities of subjective, partial representation of space are subverted by the appearance of photography. This technique becomes the most powerful means of representation, albeit always bearing the seal of the individual photographer. At the same time, diverse techniques of illustration, such as drawings, engravings, water colour and photography coexist in travel editions (Fr. Perilla, 1929). F.F. Boissonnas' work constituted a landmark in the history of photography. In Athens, the famous artist captured antiquities, monuments and landscape in his own singular way (1919). In the 20th century, writers assume alternating roles: they are authors, photographers, researchers, poets and artists, but above all travellers. Now however there is no unifying stance, more than ever a divergence in the subjects which constitute space becomes patent (R. Puaux in 1932). Thus, travellers return to historical memory and landscape, or rather to the landscape which nourishes the history of every land. This landscape continues to enrich graphic representation of Athenian space and to keep alive a deep faith and adoration for everything Greek. A series of engravings and watercolours of landscapes, details of space and human types are included in the work of P. Jeancard (1919); they were based on the author's own drawings, and are reminiscent of photographic shots. Finally, photography becomes the “philosophical stone” of memory, and one of the most powerful tools for objectivity, to the measure that this can be achieved (Al. Van den Brule in 1907 και E. Reisinger in 1923).
Throughout the centuries, to visitors the splendid city of Athens never ceases to be the place where the highest ethical values of citizenship were born, the place were nobility, measure, spiritual harmony do not crush individuals, but rather provide them with knowledge and well-being. With the immediacy of its goals, fifth-century society enabled free, democratic citizens to think for themselves. That society was enamoured of logos, reason and ethics, and assumed responsibility for its acts. Attic speech and the acquisition of knowledge gradually transformed ideas into palpable works, as they came to crown the rock-symbol of the Acropolis. “We come to this place to compare the permanence and vigour of the spirit and the intelligence which produced these creations. We do not seek for Athens only in Athens. This inscription was written for Athens: the heart is here, its spirit is everywhere”, as one traveller wrote.
Athens: A city bathing in the light of its splendid monuments which dazzled all travellers, a city which bathes its citizens in light, keeping alive the pulse at the heart of the Agora, a city, the stone ship of the Acropolis sailing, resisting the passing of time, taking its visitors on a voyage and enriching the treasury of the illustrations of their works.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou