Patras is not widely visited in the first centuries of travel from Western Europe to the East. Consequently, it is mostly found in depictions of the wider area, which was of considerable strategic importance. The interesting sights of the region begin to be represented in the early 19th century, when most travellers wishing to explore the antiquities of the Peloponnese enter Greece through the port of Patras. After the foundation of the Greek state, Patras occupies an important position in travel accounts and their illustrations.
G. Rosaccio's isolario (1598) includes scenes of battles between Christians and Ottomans, including those which took place in the Gulf of Patras. Similar engravings which imitate maps and city views published in another succesful isolario a few years earlier, are found in the account by H. Beauvau (1615).
The subjects of the illustrations which accompany this edition of J. Spon 's voyage (1678), which is highly significant for the author's pioneering exploration of ancient sites, are novel and groundbreaking for their time. Most of the pictures are first-ever depictions of archaeological sites and ruins. The Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti in Venice, founded by V.M. Coronelli published several editions illustrated with hundreds of copper engravings, which aimed at exalting Venice's victories during the Ottoman-Venetian war (1684-1687). Naturally, Coronelli's editions include copper engravings (views and plans) showing battles, the fortress and the surrounding area of Patras. 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 illustrate later travel chronicles, historical treatises and geographic editions (Ol. Dapper, 1688). 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. Clearly influenced by the editions of the Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti, G. Albrizzi's work (1687) includes a series of major fortresses, ports and towns, mainly of the Peloponnese.
For the illustration of his work “Grèce”, F.C.H.L. Pouqueville (author of one of the most systematic studies of the geomorphology of continental Greece) generally borrowed views from other popular and influential travel editions. The views of Patras show the influence of W.H. Williams' and O.M. von Stackelberg's works.
The pioneering work by Ed. Dodwell (1819), an author who tried to produce engravings of all documented antiquities, includes a depiction of a place considered sacred until today, the holy spring of Agios Andreas on the site of the oracle of Demeter. Dodwell's companion S. Pomardi (1820) contibuted a view of the city. Also during the pre-revolutionary period, landscape painter H. W. Williams (1829) produced two views of sights of Patras. In accordance with the aesthetics of his time, this artist achieves to convey emotion and nostalgia but does not render the characteristics of the surrounding space with precision. After the Independence, the Greek government financed the mapping of Greek territory by the French Expeditions. This project also led to the creation of original graphic material (J.-P.-Ε.-F. Peytier, 1829-32, 1833-35). After his journey in Greek lands, at the begining of the 19th century, O.M. von Stackelberg was able to render historical locations and antiquities in accordance with the emerging tendency of romanticism (1834).
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.
In the 19th century the Peloponnese has become one of the most widely visited areas. As port of entrance to the country, Patras is prominent in the illustrations of travel works (E. Rey in 1867, J. Skene in 1838-45, A. Schweiger Lerchenfeld in 1887). Views of the area of Patras are also included in the successful edition by Chr. Wordsworth, which is a historical narrative on Greece rather than a travel account. They are either are copied from earlier edition or newly executed in a modern style (reedition of 1882).
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.
In the first quarter of the 20th century, the new technique of photography coexists with older ones (drawings, wood engraving and water colour). Representation focuses on the town's recent historical past or on details of its sights (R. Puaux 1932). At the same time, archaeological findings from the area of Patras (ancient and medieval) illustrate editions by remarkable travellers (Fr. Perilla 1929, R. Puaux 1932). Illustrated journals of the time also show the port of Patras in picturesque but nevertheless realistic depictions.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou