Lesbos passed from Genoese to Ottoman domination in the 15th century. The port with its well-preserved castle, female costumes and the impressive Roman remains are the main subjects depicted in travel accounts.
Lesbos attracts the attention of scholars and geographers with “Liber Insularum Archipelagi” a pioneering early-15th century cartographic manuscript by Cr. Buondelmonti. Buondelmonti’s work became a model for the isolaria that followed, such as the work of B. dalli Sonetti (1485), who coupled his maps with sonnets on the islands and by Β. Bordone (1547), who completed his maps with myths, excerpts of island history and descriptions of the islands' special features. In the late 16th century Lesbos appears in G.Fr. Camocio's isolario (1574), a groundbreaking work for its era which inspired later works such as G. Rosaccio’s isolario, and lent its illustrations to pilgrim chronicles such as the one by H. Beauvau (1615). 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. M. Boschini’s edition, a small isolario, beautiful sample of mid-17th century Venetian engraving, includes a map of Lesbos, accompanied by an explanatory text with historical and geographical information. The isolario of Fr. Piacenza (1688) includes superbly engraved maps and a wealth of material on the Aegean islands, Cyprus and the Peloponnese.
Maps of Lesbos are also found in the works by J. Sandrart (1686), J. Roux (1804) and W. Gell (1804). The map in Sandrart's erudite work is an imitation of an earlier engraving. Roux's port index charts all the main anchorages of the area, while Gell's edition has a drawing of the mountain profiles of Lesbos.
Ol. Dapper’s edition (“Archipel”, 1688) became distinguished for its highly elaborate engravings and was based mainly on ancient Greek and Latin sources, portolani, isolaria, contemporary travel accounts and reliable maps. It includes a view of Lesbos and a table of ancient coins of the island. 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 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.
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.
Views of the port and significant locations of the island appear already in the 17th century. One of the first realistic views of Lesbos is found in the work by C. Le Bruyn (1814), who illustrated his account with engravings of high artistic quality, inspired by original subjects. The 1717 edition by J. Pitton de Tournefort, which was released soon after the author's journey to the Aegean sea and thenceforth became an indispensable guide to all travellers in the Archipelago, includes a view of the port of Lesbos. Richard Pococke's work (1745) contains plates showing antiquities of Lesbos and a view of the Roman aqueduct.
A depiction of the aqueduct at Moria and a few other subjects from Lesbos also illustrate 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 image as opposed to text, that is, graphic representation, as a primary feature of travel chronicles (late 18th - early 19th centuries).
The aqueduct, this impressive and well-preserved Roman monument, is also depicted in a novel style in the edition by Chr. Wordsworth (1882 reedition), which is more of a historical narrative on Greece than a travel account proper. A view of the same site is found in “Grèce” by F.C.H.L. Pouqueville, whose illustrations are copied from earlier popular and succesful travel accounts. 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.
From the 16th century onwards, women are a very popular subject of illustrations, as can be seen in the work by C. Vecellio (1598, republished in 1859). Thus, women of Lesbos in their traditional costumes are depicted in the work J. Pitton de Tournefort (1717), a work which redefined travellers' itineraries and became a landmark in travel literature. Harmonious with his text, the drawings by French traveller A.L. Castellan accompany his gentle discourse. Published in an elegant, small-format editon which came out in multiple volumes, they convey a unique perspective and present rare and original subjects (1812).
In the early 19th century, plates of women's costumes from Lesbos are found in the Album by O.M. von Stackelberg (1828), a work with excellent artistic drawings. Military officers, itinerant traders and scenes of everyday life are depicted, albeit somewhat awkwardly, in the plates created by the painter Lachaise (1821). The small-format edition by A.L. Castellan, with colour engravings of the highest quality, depicts a female costume from Lesbos, which is reproduced in Ph. Argenti's annotated edition on costumes (1953).
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou