As the other Greek islands, Rhodes, the largest island in the Dodecanese, becomes known to scholars and geographers with “Liber Insularum Archipelagi” by Cr. Buondelmonti, which constituted a model for later isolaria such as the one by B. dalli Sonetti (1485) and Β. Bordone (1547). Sonetti's maps are accompanied by sonnets while Bordone notes information on the mythology, history and climate of each island on his idiosyncratic maps.
Ber. von Breydenbach's work (1486), the first printed travel account, is illustrated with wood engravings depicting views of cities on the maritime route from Venice to Palestine, among which Rhodes. The earliest depiction of Rhodes island can be found in B. von Breydenbach's travel account (ninth edition in 1502), in a plate engraved by E. Reuwich. In spite of the linearity imposed by the technique of wood engraving, the picture renders several details of the port and the town buildings. Breydenbach's representation became the matrix of various copies, identical or with variations, which continued to be printed until the late 18th century; an example can be seen in the chronicle by N. Bianco (1600).
Rhodes is included in the pioneering isolario by G. Fr. Camocio (1574), which influenced later isolaria such as the one by G. Rosaccio (1598) and lent its illustrations to pilgrim chronicles (H. Beauvau in 1615 and J. Van Cootwijck in 1619). Like all similar works, the isolario of Antonio Millo (1582-91) is enriched by engravings already published in contemporary editions. Antonio marks perillous waters on the maps of his isolaria, and uses the place names found in contemporary portolani.
In 1572 T. Porcacchi published a very successful isolario, (here the edition of 1620) in which he employed the novel technique of copper engraving. This technique permitted the creation of more detailed and accurate images and a greater concentration of information; it gradually became the technique of choice for all illustrated works, until the early 19th century, when progressively lithography became the most popular technique. A map of the city and its port is found in the chronicle by L. Deshayes de Courmenin (1624). In the edition by Μ. Boschini, which is a beautiful small sample of mid-17th century Venetian engraving, the map of Rhodes and of all the other locations are accompanied by explanatory texts on the history and geography of each place. The isolario of Fr. Piacenza(1688) includes superbly engraved maps and a wealth of material on the Aegean islands, Cyprus and the Peloponnese.The editions by J. Enderlin include copies of engravings found in earlier or nearly contemporary popular works (1686).
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.
In the 17th century, V.M. Coronelli, founder of the Academia Cosmografica degli Argonauti, published tenths of editions with numerous copper engravings, exalting Venice's victories during the Venetian-Ottoman war (1684-1687), although he never travelled to the Ottoman empire himself. Coronelli published a special edition on Rhodes and nearby islands (Coronelli, V.M. / Parissoti, An., in 1688).
These drawings were copied several times, either exactly or with variations, and illustrate the reeditions and translations of Coronell's works since then, as well as later travel chronicles, historical treatises and geographic editions such as Ol. Dapper's “Archipel” of 1688. The latter work includes a table showing ancient coins of Rhodes. Maps of Rhodes are also found in the works by Η. Blount (1707) and J. Sandrart (1686). Blount's work is a reedition of his highly successful travel account while the map in the scholarly work by German engraver Sandrart is an imitation of an earlier engraving from a similar work. 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.
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 shores.
The work by J. Lauremberg (1660) includes excellent engravings of maps of ancient Greece. The maps are accompanied by historical and geographical explanatory texts, which testify to the author's deep erudition.
The account by J. Somer (1649, republished 1661) includes impressive plates with original subjects (such as the Colossus of Rhodes), which follow the long-standing tradition of Flemish engraving.
Special mention must be made of specific illustration subjects from 16th and 17th century works. Such an example are the wood engravings showing the siege of the city and the island in the late 15th century, in J.A.M. Adelphus' account (1513). A drawing of a reptile from Rhodes is found in the groundbreaking account by naturalist P. Belon (1554). One of the earliest representations of the Colossus is included in the chronicle by A. Thevet (1556) while a female costume from Rhodes is depicted in the Album by C. Vecellio (1598, reedition of 1859). This last plate is reproduced in the editions by Coronelli as well. The account by J. Somer (1649, republished 1661) includes impressive plates with original subjects (such as the Colossus of Rhodes), which follow the long-standing tradition of Flemish engraving. In his chronicle, H. Breuning (1612) includes depictions of himself amd his travel companion in the travellers' attire typical of each place they stopped at, including Rhodes.
The edition by G. Bosio / P. de Boissat (1659), in the latter's translation contains a few engravings showing the cities in which the Knights Hospitaller were most active. Those illustrations are in fact variations of plates already published in popular travel and cartographic editions of the era.
The first panoramic views of the city and port are found in the account by C. Le Bruyn, who illustrated his chronicle with splendid engravings of high artistic quality, representing original subjects. The illustrations in the edition by J.A. van Egmont and J. Heymann (1759) show subjects already published in the editions by C. Le Bruyn. The plates which embellish the travel account by J. Thevenot (1727) show uncommon subjects. In their majority, they are highly detailed compositions consisting of several figures. They show scenes taking place in faraway lands and seem to tell a story which captivates the viewer.
A map of Rhodes, a view of the city and a table with ancient coins are found in the monumental work by M.G.F.A. Choiseul-Gouffier, French nobleman and later ambassador to the Sublime Gate (1782). Towards the late 18th century Choiseul-Gouffier travelled to the Aegean and subsequently published a travel account which changed the Western European perception of the East. This work expressed the intellectual and artistic currents prevalent in Europe at the time in a most impressive manner. In the early 19th century Rhodes appears in a significant port index showing anchorages all over the Mediterranean (J. Roux, 1804). The rich cartographic production of the late 18th century includes the remarkable maps of P.G. Chanlaire (c. 1780), here coloured over. In the same period (1803), painter L. Mayer produced a coloured engraving representing a rare view of an ancient monument, while among other illustrations, Ed. D. Clarke (1814) has two plates of the mountain profiles of the island as seen from aboard.
In the 19th century, the Grand Tour of the East had become almost mandatory for wealthy Europeans, as a means to acquire knowledge and as sign of social status. It included a visit of Rhodes (J. d’ Estourmel in 1848 and J.H. Allan in 1843). Albums of the time also show views of the sights of the city of Rhodes and the island (J. Carne in 1848).
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 general, 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).
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, there are two editions exclusively dedicated to Rhodes. One was written by Flemish author Β.Ε.Α. Rottiers (1828), who stayed in Rhodes for six months and worked hard to describe and depict the island's medieval monuments. The second work is the rare album of Elizabeth Wrede's drawings (1918). This artist successfully conveys the simplicity and frugality of public and private life on the Eastern Mediterranean island, that held such a fascination for travellers.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou