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ANTIQUITY&PHOTOGRAPHY


A N T I Q U I T Y & PHOTOGRAPHY Early Views of Ancient Mediterranean Sites


CLAIre L. Lyons John K. Papadopoulos Lindesey S. Stewart Andrew Szegedy Maszak

The J, Paul Getty Museum . Los Angeles


This publication is issued i n connection w i t h the exhibition Antiquity &

Photography: Early

Views of Ancient Mediterranean

Sites

held at the Getty V i l l a , M a l i b u , winter and spring of 2 0 0 6 . This inaugural exhibition was sponsored by

Merrill L y n c h .

The Getty Villa Council generously supported the guest curators and preparation of the essays.

© 2005 J. Paul Getty Trust

Illustrations without

Getty Publications

Title page

Detail of Plate x v i , p. 205.

1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 500

p. V I I

Jean-Gabriel Eynard (Swiss, 1 7 7 5 - 1 8 6 3 ) , Self-portrait w i t h daguerreo

Los Angeles, California

type of the Roman Forum, ca. 1845. Daguerreotype, 11.4 x 8.4 cm

90049-1682

(41/2 x 3 1/ in.), J P G M 84.XT.255.38.

www.getty.edu

4

p.

viii

Christopher Hudson, Publisher M a r k Greenberg, Editor in

captions

U n k n o w n photographer, Plaster statuette of the Laocoön group, ca. 1850s. Daguerreotype stereograph, 8.3 x 17.1 cm

Chief

1

(3 5/16 x 6 3/16 i n . ) . GRI 2005.R.3. p.

Phil Freshman, Manuscript Editor

xiii

Francis Frith (British, 1 8 2 2 - 1 8 9 8 ) , Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Albumen silver print, 24.1 x 15.2 cm

Benedicte G i l m a n , Editorial Coordinator pp. x i v f .

K u r t H a user, Designer

Geography

Stephenie Blakemore, Christopher Alien Foster, Ellen Rosenbery, Stanley Smith and Rebecca Vera-Martinez, Photographers,

Detail of "Provinces of the Roman Empire ( A . D . 119)." Engraving w i t h hand-colored outline. F r o m W i l l i a m Hughes, An Atlas of Classical

Elizabeth Chapin K a h n , Production Coordinator

J P G M photos

p. 3

(New York: Sheldon, 1856), plate 4.

Detail of fig. 4, p. 10.

pp. 2 0 - 2 1

Detail of fig. 7, p. 16.

p. 23

Detail of fig. 14, p. 127.

Typography by Diane Franco

p. 27

Detail of Plate 11, p. 96.

Printed and bound i n Italy by A r t i Grafiche Amilcare Pizzi, S.p.A.

p. 28

Detail of fig. 2, p. 70.

John Kiffe, Photographer,

G R I photos

L i b r a r y of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A n t i q u i t y & photography : early views of ancient Mediterranean sites / Claire L . Lyons ... [et al.]. p. cm. ISBN-13: 978-0-89236-805-1

(hardcover)

I S B N - 1 0 : 0-89236-805-5 (hardcover) 1. Photography i n archaeology—Exhibitions. 2. Ruins i n a r t — E x h i b i t i o n s . 3. Photography—-History-—19th century—Exhibitions—4; Calotype—Exhibitionsr 5. Daguerreotype—Exhibitions.

I . Lyons, Claire L . , 1 9 5 5 - I I . J. Paul Getty Museum.

T R 7 7 5 . A 5 8 2005 779'.993 — d c 2 2 2005005162

1857.

x 6 in.), GRI 88.R.8 (M6.14).

p. 38

Detail of fig. 6, p. 4 1 .

pp. 6 0 - 6 1

Detail of Plate x i , p. 199.

p. 67

Detail of fig. 6, p. 77.

pp. 9 2 - 9 3

Detail of Plate i v , p. 98.

p. 105

Detail of fig. 23, p. 1 4 1 .

p. 116

Detail of fig. 4, p . 75.

p. 126

Detail of fig. 13, p. 125.

p. 134

Detail of fig. 2 1 , p. 138.

p. 149

Detail of fig. 13, p. 180.

p. 161

Detail of fig. 9, p. 174.

pp. 1 6 2 - 6 3

Detail of fig. 12, p. 179.

pp. 1 7 0 - 7 1

Detail of fig. 6, p. 169.

pp. 1 9 4 - 9 5

Detail of Plate x i v , p. 203.


Contents

vi

Abbreviations

fx

Foreword William

xi

Preface Marion

Griswold

xiv

M a p of the Mediterranean

2

INTRODUCTION

True

and Thomas Crow

and Weston Naef

Andrew Szegedy-Maszak 22

T H E A R T A N D SCIENCE OF A N T I Q U I T Y I N N I N E T E E N T H - C E N T U R Y P H O T O G R A P H Y

Claire L . Lyons 66

I N PERFECT

ORDER:

A N T I Q U I T Y I N T H E D A G U E R R E O T Y P E S OF J O S E P H - P H I L I B E R T G I R A U L T D E P R A N G E Y

Lindsey S. Stewart 94

P O R T F O L I O : Plates I - V I I I

M a x i m e D u Camp, Felix Teynard, John Beasley Greene, Gustave Le Gray, Francis Frith 104

ANTIQUITY DEPICTED

John K. Papadopoulos 148

A N A M E R I C A N O N T H E ACROPOLIS: W I L L I A M JAMES S T I L L M A N

Andrew Szegedy-Maszak 196

P O R T F O L I O : Plates I X - X V I

Robert Macpherson; Giorgio Sommer; Tommaso Cuccioni; Braun, Clement et Cie

206

Notes

219

Index


Abbreviations

attr.

attributed to

b.

born

ca.

circa

cat.

catalogue

cm

centimeter

d.

died

diss.

dissertation

ed.

editor/edited by

edn.

edition

esp.

especially

exh.

exhibition

GB

Gordon Baldwin

GRI

Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

in.

inch

jPGM

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

m

meter

repr.

reprint

rev.

revised (by)

trans.

translator/translated by

Univ.

. University -

In the dimensions, height

precedes width.


Foreward

A

t their first public demonstration i n Paris i n 1839,

as a professional discipline and w i t h the g r o w t h of museum

photographs seemed nothing short of miraculous i n

collections. Photography has consequently had a profound

their ability to record a m i r r o r image of actuality.

impact on our perception of ancient art and its afterlife.

F r o m the moment its inventors promoted the camera's useful­

The present

volume accompanies

the exhibition that

ness for documenting Egyptian hieroglyphs, photography has

inaugurates the newly renovated Getty V i l l a i n M a l i b u . The

played a decisive role i n the interpretation of antiquity. Early

exhibition draws on complementary collections i n the Getty

photographers focused their lenses on marble-pillared tem­

Museum's Department of Photographs and i n the Research

ples, toppled statues, and the exotic foreign panoramas that

L i b r a r y of the Getty Research Institute, b o t h of w h i c h house

had long lured travelers to the antique lands. Frequently

significant w o r k s by many of the most innovative and accom­

trained as painters, these pioneers mingled the factual w i t h

plished nineteenth-century photographers. Beginning w i t h the

the lyrical. Their expressive views, seemingly objective w i n ­

first extant images of the Athenian Acropolis, captured i n a

dows onto a remote past, were never far removed from con­

series of recently rediscovered daguerreotypes

temporary concerns. Early photographs reveal as much about

Philibert Girault de Prangey, the exhibition and the essays that

the photographers' sensibilities and the social milieu i n w h i c h

f o l l o w trace a journey around the Mediterranean i n the foot­

their aesthetic and scientific responses were shaped as i t does

steps of such masters of the "beautiful a r t " as M a x i m e D u

about antiquity itself.

by Joseph-

Camp, Robert Macpherson, and W i l l i a m James Stillman.

D u r i n g the first four decades of the new m e d i u m , expedi­

Their views j o i n a selection of documentary images f r o m the

tionary photographers documented groundbreaking archaeo­

Research Library, where collections relating to the historiog­

logical excavations of legendary citadels from Troy to N u b i a ,

raphy of archaeology are rich i n photographs and other visual

places still terra incognita to most Western explorers. Closer

materials relating to Greece, the O t t o m a n Empire, and Italy.

to home, the photographers also registered the latest finds to

The wealth of these resources and their bearing on the

emerge from the multi-layered urban foundations of Rome

Getty Museum's collection of Greek and R o m a n art offer the

and Athens. That such remarkable discoveries resonated well

perfect o p p o r t u n i t y to reconsider classical antiquity t h r o u g h

beyond scholarly and artistic circles to captivate the wider

the prism of diverse intellectual traditions. Eloquently depict­

public imagination is largely due to photographic reproduc­

ed i n rare photographs, the persistence of the antique is a

tions. Unparalleled i n their accuracy and artistry, photographs

theme that is central to the mission of the Getty V i l l a . I t

were rapidly disseminated among audiences avid to see, rather

encourages viewers to look w i t h unbiased eyes at the artifacts

than merely imagine, history at first hand. The advent of this

and

technical marvel coincided w i t h the evolution of archaeology

European

monuments

that have come to be cornerstones

culture. Beyond the r o m a n c e — o r

of

melancholy

ix


pleasure—inherent i n regarding the relics of ancient civiliza­

The essays presented here are the realization of just such

tions, photographs testify to the survival of the past into the

a collaborative enterprise, i n the best sense of the term. We

modern era. They reveal both physical changes and the shift­

gratefully acknowledge the exceptional contributions of our

ing cultural meanings antiquity has held i n successive times

outstanding curatorial, design, and publications teams, and

and places.

most particularly M a r i o n True, Curator of Antiquities and

Antiquity &

Photography

heralds future cross-boundary

Trust Coordinator for V i l l a Programs, and Weston

Curator of Photographs, w h o organized the exhibition and

the heritage of the ancient Mediterranean w o r l d has been

shepherded this publication. We thank the V i l l a Council for

continually adapted and

its enthusiastic support of this inaugural exhibition and its

revitalized. W i t h

its classically

inspired architecture i n a landscape setting that evokes the

companion volume.

Mediterranean, the Getty V i l l a is the ideal venue for the cre­ ative exploration of the classical legacy that is everywhere vis­

William Griswold

ible i n contemporary culture. Fruitful exchanges among staff and colleagues from different fields of specialization alongside

Acting Director,

The

J . Paul Getty Museum

v i v i d juxtapositions of the collections across a spectrum of media and time frames promise to spark fresh approaches

Thomas C r o w

b o t h to antiquity and to the subsequent artistic and cultural

Director, Getty

contexts i n w h i c h i t lives on.

X

Naef,

Getty publications and exhibitions that aim to explore h o w

FOREWORD

Research Institute


Preface

T

he decision to make early photographs of archaeolog­

for this lack of context. The powerful images captured on the

ical sites the subject of the Getty Villa's first special

delicate silver surfaces of daguerreotype plates, or imbedded

exhibition was natural. Nineteenth-century archaeol­

in the fibers of waxed paper negatives, cannot replace the

ogists and scholars of ancient art had immediately grasped the

experience of standing on the stony surface of the Athenian

enormous potential of photography. Seeing photographs as a

Acropolis, of observing firsthand the dense layers of accumu­

form of documentation, scientists envisioned the new medium

lated architectural history in the imperial fora of Rome, or of

as a great asset to the study of ancient architecture, artifacts,

gazing upon the vast expanse of the Sahara desert that sur­

and languages, while the first photographers to visit ancient

rounds the Giza plateau. The magnificent views of these sites as

Mediterranean sites saw themselves

as artists employing a

recorded by early photographers can, however, strongly evoke

new pencil. Through a series of strategic acquisitions, the

the settings where these ancient artifacts were originally created

Getty Museum Department of Photographs

and displayed.

and the Special

Collections of the Research Library at the Getty Research

A t the heart of this book are several interwoven themes

Institute together house extraordinary resources that can pres­

that unfold on vastly different time lines i n the accompanying

ent the entire early history of photographers' fascination and

essays. One thread is the creation i n metal and stone as long ago

engagement w i t h the ancient monuments. W h a t better setting

as three and a half millennia of objects and monuments and

in which to display some of the rarest and best examples of pho­

their rediscovery and interpretation i n modern times. Another

tography i n dialogue w i t h antiquities than i n the newly renovat­

strand starts w i t h the announcement of photography over a

ed Getty Villa, now dedicated to the study and preservation of

century and a half ago and its impact on a variety of artists and

ancient cultures? Beyond the theoretical and practical aspects, there was a further compelling reason that made these photographs the most appropriate choice for the first exhibition at the Villa. I n M a l i b u , the antiquities of the Mediterranean are far from their

amateurs w h o recognized i t as one of the greatest of discover­ ies. A third theme is the flow of time as a force to be harnessed, and the possibilities photography presented for doing this. The

first

public demonstration

i n Paris by Louis-

Jacques-Mande Daguerre of how to make a picture employing

original homelands. I n our galleries they miss the close associa­

the action of sunlight was greeted w i t h enthusiasm as the first

tions w i t h the natural landscapes and urban environments that

witnesses to the demonstration declared their optimism for the

both inspired the ancient artists and craftsmen and provided the

potential of this new means of visual representation. Almost

materials they worked so confidently. Even the luxurious

immediately came the recognition that the "pencil of nature"

Roman country-house setting evoked i n the Museum's building,

made possible the creation of images that were the product of a

which replicates the ancient Villa dei Papiri, cannot compensate

unique combination of art and science.

xi


Art and science are likewise combined i n archaeology.

and Archaeology at U C L A ; and Andrew Szegedy-Maszak,

Soon after Daguerre's first demonstration of his new process,

Professor of Classical Studies at Wesleyan University. I n addi­

entrepreneurs saw the potential i n bringing back from distant

tion, Lindsey Stewart, an independent photography consult­

lands pictures made w i t h light so that audiences ranging from

ant, generously contributed her expertise on Girault de Prangey

heads of state to armchair tourists could see ancient sites and

to this volume. The brief biographical texts for the portfolios

monuments as they actually looked, not just as they had previ­

of photographs were written by Gordon Baldwin, Associate

ously been represented by a draftsman's or a painter's hand. I n

Curator of Photographs

fact, as the essays i n this volume examine i n depth, photographs

Publications, Benedicte Gilman oversaw the project, Elizabeth

at the Getty Museum. I n Getty

of the past supported contemporary concerns w i t h cultural and

Chapin Kahn coordinated production, and K u r t Hauser pro­

intellectual identity. The early photographs of archaeological

vided the fine design. Phil Freshman, a freelance consultant,

sites are today prized for the vision and originality they incor­

edited the essays i n this book, while Kimberly Riback edited the

porate as well as for their inherent documentary value.

exhibitions material.

When the first photographers visited the cultural and

We are most grateful to M e r r i l l Lynch, the sponsor of

historic sites of the ancient Mediterranean starting i n the early

this inaugural exhibition. The Villa Council generously sup­

1840s, w i t h their large cameras mounted on wooden tripods

ported the guest curators and the preparation of these essays.

and the many chemicals necessary to sensitize and develop pic­

Gordon Baldwin and Paul Martineau from the Museum's

tures on the spot, i t was not possible to reproduce photographs

Department

of Photographs;

of Antiquities; Quincy H o u g h t o n , Assistant

Janet Grossman

from

mechanically. However, since 1900 the development of inex­

Department

pensive methods of photomechanical reproduction and the

Director for Exhibition and Public Programs; and Liz Andres,

broad dissemination of images of antiquity have made these

Villa Exhibitions Coordinator, were also essential to the devel­

places and monuments familiar, even to those w h o have never

opment and realization of this collaborative effort. The team

visited them. Photography has forever established places such

responsible for the beautiful exhibition design included M e r r i t t

as the Roman Forum, the Acropolis i n Athens, and the pyra­

Price, Debi Van Z y l , Silvina Niepomniszcze, and Julian

mids at Giza as destinations of cultural importance.

Wolfart. Bruce M e t r o and Kevin Marshall and their skilled

From the very beginning, the products of camera and

team of preparators oversaw the installation of the exhibition.

chemistry were considered works of art by their makers, t w o

It is our hope that this display of early photographs w i l l be just

of whom—Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey and W i l l i a m

the first i n a series of shows that w i l l explore further the close

James Stillman—are treated here i n depth i n t w o of the essays.

associations between antiquity and photography.

The strength and consistency of other pioneer photographers w o r k i n g i n ancient places are reflected i n this book by port­

M a r i o n True

folios of pictures that display the character of the exhibition

Curator of Antiquities, The

that this book accompanies.

and Trust Coordinator for

J . Paul Getty Museum, Villa Programs

This publication and the eponymous exhibition are the results of a wonderfully productive collaboration among

Weston Naef

three curators: Claire Lyons, Collections Curator at the Getty

Curator of Photographs, The

Research Institute; John Papadopoulos, Professor of Classics

xii

the

PREFACE

J . Paul Getty Museum


INTRODUCTION

I

nspired by the exhibition in London of a monumental head from ancient Egypt, Percy Bysshe Shelley composed a famous sonnet on the transient nature of human endeav足 or. The narrator of "Ozymandias" (1818) tells of meeting "a traveller from an antique

land," who had found a massive statue reduced to ruin. Only a truncated pair of legs and a shattered face remained, along with the original inscription, which declared, " M y name is Ozymandias, king of kings: / Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and

despair!" The poet concludes, "Nothing beside remains. Round the decay / Of that

colossal wreck, boundless and bare / The lone and level sands stretch far away." Although Shelley wrote his poem two decades before the invention of photography in 1839, it perfect足

ly conveys some of the most enduring impulses underlying photographs of ancient monu足 ments and sites: awe at the sheer magnitude of the remnants combined with bittersweet recognition of mortality.

2

A n d r e w Szegedy-Maszak


P H O T O G R A P H Y ' S U N E R R I N G EYE

F

R O M T H E E A R L I E S T D A Y S of photography, its prac­

the monuments and the ways i n which photographs record

titioners made their way to Egypt, the Levant, Greece,

them. I n the first part of the nineteenth century, for example,

and Italy. Long before they were identified as nations,

the Athenian Acropolis was covered w i t h numerous small hous­

these regions on the shores of the Mediterranean projected fas­

es dating from the O t t o m a n occupation of Greece, and the first

cination and influence far beyond their borders. This book and

photographically based illustration of the temple shows the

the exhibition i t accompanies feature photographs that depict

remnants of a small mosque still standing i n the cella (see

ancient sites and monuments and that were made roughly i n

Papadopoulos fig. 8). Archaeologists thereafter tried to uncov­

the first forty years of the medium. I n addition to their visual

er the past and, while doing so, to create an overall simulacrum

interest, these views have extensive cultural implications.

of ancient times; the photographs clearly show how they

Because they illustrate those ancient sites that aroused the inter­

stripped the Acropolis of virtually all its post-Classical accre­

est of travelers, they exist at the intersection of history, archae­

tions. The result, as Papadopoulos demonstrates, is that the

ology, tourism, taste, and pictorial art. As a result, the essays

Acropolis is an archaeological site and, at the same time, an

here represent a variety of approaches, but they are linked i n

artifice — a reminder of a particular nineteenth-century view of

their attention to the rich context i n which the early photo­

Greek antiquity.

graphs were produced.

focus, respectively, on Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey

ines the parallel growth of archaeology as a scientific discipline

( 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) and W i l l i a m James Stillman ( 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , whose

and its increasing reliance on photographic documentation.

careers

One feature of photographic seeing that proved to be particu­

in this book and exhibition and exemplify some of its most

larly valuable was its panoramic quality, that is, its ability to

important concerns.

show how an ancient site fit into its geographical and topo­

brought to his w o r k a remarkably sophisticated sensibility.

mark

the

chronological limits

of the

Both men were amateurs,

pictures and

each

graphical surroundings. A corollary contribution of photogra­

Girault de Prangey undertook a tour of the Mediterranean

phy was its precision i n rendering detail. Lyons calls the result

i n 1842 and made daguerreotypes at many of the places he

"visual mapping," the minute depiction of individual buildings,

visited. As Stewart shows, he was a man of wide learning and

which scholars could n o w study as "texts i n stone" i n order to

passionate enthusiasms. His interest i n architecture took h i m to

decipher the relations between architecture, ornament, and cul­

the conventional venues i n Athens and Rome and even i n Egypt

tural values. Whether made at previously u n k n o w n sites i n the

(discussed below) and on to the farther reaches of the Near

Near East or South America or i n much more familiar places

East. He is the first photographer we k n o w to have made pic­

such as Rome, photographs soon became indispensable. As

tures at Baalbek, the great imperial Roman settlement in

Lyons notes, "Today, i t is hard to imagine the synthetic study of

Lebanon, where he worked at a feverish pace, producing more

antiquity w i t h o u t the aid of the photograph."

than a hundred successful daguerreotypes (fig. 1). One curiosity

John Papadopoulos considers some of the conventions

4

The other t w o essays, by Lindsey Stewart and myself,

Utilizing a number of case studies, Claire Lyons exam­

of Girault de Prangey's views is that, like all the earliest

that came to govern even the ostensibly objective photography

daguerreotypes, they are laterally reversed. One can see the phe­

of antiquities and ancient sites. Concentrating on Athens, he

nomenon quite clearly i f one compares

addresses both the changes, sometimes dramatic, that affected

(reversed) w i t h Papadopoulos

INTRODUCTION

figure

Stewart

figure

9

12 ("correct" albumen


Figure i . J O S E P H - P H I L I B E R T G I R A U L T D E P R A N G E Y (French, 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) , Baalbec. 1844. T[emple] circulaire. Inte[rieur]

Det.[ail]

(Baalbek, Circular temple, interior detail), 1844. Daguerreotype, 18.9 x 24.1 cm (yVs x 9V2 in.), J P G M 2003.82.6. 5


Figure 2.

F E L I X B O N F I L S (French, 1831-1885), Interior of the Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, ca. 1 8 6 0 S - 1 8 7 0 S . A l b u m e n silver p r i n t , 22 x 28 cm ( 8 / i 6 x n V i e in.), G R I 88.R.8, Box 46 (M6.L4 .3). 15

6


print), and Stewart figure 10 (reversed) w i t h Szegedy-Maszak

notably John Ruskin. He photographed the renowned monu­

figure 18 ("correct" carbon print). Eventually photographers

ments of the Athenian Acropolis i n 1869 and, the following

invented a means to fix the problem.

year, published a volume of twenty-five views entitled The

So near the dawn of photography, Girault de Prangey had as aesthetic models the draftsmen and printmakers w h o

Acropolis of

Athens Illustrated Picturesquely

ally in Photography.

and

Architectur-

Unlike Girault de Prangey, Stillman had

preceded h i m , yet his pictures reveal that he had a remarkable

an extensive tradition of photography, both personal and com­

understanding of some of photography's distinctive character­

mercial, to which he could refer. I n that light, his original­

istics. As Stewart writes, his "contribution n o w occupies a

ity becomes all the more impressive. The individual pictures

unique position, bridging a gap between the finely executed

explore unexpected angles and points of view. I argue that

architectural drawings of previous centuries and the photog­

Stillman composed them w i t h the double aim of demonstrating

raphy of later generations." Indeed w i t h i n a short time after

technical refinements of ancient artistry and construction and,

Girault de Prangey's visit, travel to Baalbek had become some­

more broadly, of expressing his idealization of ancient Athens.

what easier; a skillful and prolific commercial photographer such

I contend, more speculatively, that he intended the album as a

as Felix Bonfils (1831-1885) found there a site that offered a rich

whole to be read i n sequence like a narrative, or even an allego­

assortment of views for his clientele of foreign travelers (fig. 2).

ry, of what he saw as the uniquely Greek amalgam of artistic

M y essay considers another

brilliant amateur,

the

excellence and democratic freedom.

American William James Stillman. His career encompassed paint­ ing, writing, archaeology, diplomacy, and photography. He knew many of the most important European and American artists and intellectuals of the mid-nineteenth century, most

INTRODUCTION

7


Figure 3.

M A X I M E D U C A M P (French, 1 8 2 2 - 1 8 9 4 ) , Giza and the Sphinx, Egypt, 1850. 3

Salted paper print, 15.2 x 21.3 cm (6 x 8 /s in.), J P G M 8 4 . X O . 1 3 0 3 . 1 . 1 1 . 8


EGYPT

E

recog­

promises views of "the most remarkable monuments i n the

nized that Egypt was home to a civilization much older

w o r l d , " and, not surprisingly, several of the images included are

and i n many ways more sophisticated than their o w n .

from Egypt.

VEN

THE

ETHNOCENTRIC ANCIENT

GREEKS

Herodotos devotes an entire book of his Persian Wars

to Egypt,

We are fortunate that one of the greatest early pho­

After discussing the Nile, he continues, " A b o u t Egypt I shall

tographers of Egypt was accompanied on his trip by one of

have a great deal more to relate because of the number of

the greatest writers of that time. The photographs and notes

remarkable things the country contains and because of the fact

that M a x i m e D u Camp (1822-1894) and Gustave Flaubert

that more monuments that beggar the imagination are to be

(1821-1880) made on their tour of the Near East from 1849 to

1

found there than anywhere else i n the w o r l d . " I f we leap over

1851 convey a vivid sense of the power that Egyptian antiqui­

two millennia to Paris i n January 1839, we find the renowned

ties had over the nineteenth-century imagination. D u Camp

2

scientist Francois Arago announcing the invention of photog­

minces no words about the difficulties he faced: " I f , some day,

raphy to the Academie des Sciences. He declares that one of

my soul is condemned to eternal damnation, i t w i l l be i n pun­

the most promising applications of this miraculous new tech­

ishment for the rage, the fury, the vexation of all kinds caused

nology w i l l be the precise copying of antiquities, specifically

me by my photography." The chemicals boiled i n the intense

the hieroglyphics of Egypt. W i t h i n a few months of Arago's

heat, sand got into everything, and occasionally a bucking mule

announcement, photographic expeditions had made their way

or bolting camel w o u l d come close to destroying all the photo­

to Egypt w i t h the express purpose of recording the antiquities;

graphic equipment. Other nineteenth-century travel photogra­

the painter Horace Vernet joined one of these excursions and

phers, such as those i n America's desert Southwest, had to deal

wrote excitedly, "We are daguerreotyping like lions!" W i t h o u t

w i t h similar hardships, yet almost all of them seem to have been

wanting to press the point too hard, we can note the metaphor

strengthened by a sense of mission.

of predation.

Despite the roistering good times he and Flaubert had

Herodotos's wonder at what the ancient Egyptians had

enjoyed, D u Camp had been w o r k i n g under the auspices of the

built seems to have survived undiminished to the nineteenth

M i n i s t r y of Public Education, and his purposes were largely

century. Egypt's vast desert and vaster sky, its people w h o

scholarly and scientific. I n Egypt they found inspiration i n the

appeared to be leading lives unchanged from those of their dis­

monuments. "We stop before the Sphinx," Flaubert writes,

tant ancestors, and its massive, mysterious ruins all combined

immediately noting that " i t fixes us w i t h a terrifying stare; M a x

to create an effect that was close to intoxicating.

is quite pale; I am afraid of becoming giddy, and try to control

Before photography was invented, those w h o were inter­

my emotion." D u Camp concurs, " I cannot remember ever hav­

ested i n the visual aspects of far-away places had either to go to

ing been moved so deeply." Yet he was not so moved as to neg­

those places or to content themselves w i t h artists' renderings.

lect his project, and he made several studies of the massive stone

N o matter how accurate, paintings, drawings, and prints are

figure. In a letter to a friend, Flaubert writes, " N o drawing I

always acknowledged as interpretations shaped by the artist's

have seen conveys a proper idea of [the Sphinx]—best is an

hand and eye. A photograph, on the other hand, was initially

excellent photograph that M a x has taken." D u Camp typically

thought to offer a direct, unmediated slice of reality. The earli­

favored a straightforward view and d i d not strive for unusual

est book w i t h illustrations based on photographs, Excursions

angles or dramatic chiaroscuro. What gives his photograph of the

daguerriennes,

Sphinx its power is its seemingly uninflected factuality (fig. 3).

was published in Paris i n 1842. Its subtitle


Figure 4.

F R A N C I S F R I T H (British, 1 8 2 2 - 1 8 9 8 ) , Fallen Colossus, Ramasseum, 5

Thebes,

Albumen silver print, 22 x 28 cm (8 /s x 11 in.), J P G M 84.XO.434.4.

10

1858.


Today we can appreciate all the choices D u Camp made i n

Playing up the wealth of detail i n the image, Frith's caption adds

terms of framing, distance, and scale. We can also locate this

a censorious note: " O n the right shoulder of the colossus is the

picture in his oeuvre and the photographer himself i n the histo­

prenomen of Ramses 11. O n the head may be seen the barbarous

ry of the medium. For the nineteenth-century viewer, however,

inscriptions of modern travelers — instance of a mania as repre­

this image and others like it carried the special

hensible as i t is childish."

fascina­

tion of literalism. Photographs had an overwhelming advantage

5

Both the presence of westerners and Frith's criticism of

over drawings, as Flaubert implies, precisely because they

"modern travellers" show that such photographs are part of

seemed to be direct transcriptions from nature.

a complex set of phenomena. I n the mid-nineteenth century

D u Camp brought 214 negatives back to France, 125 of Palestine et Syrie,

middle-class travel was undergoing a huge expansion, facili­

for the lavish volume Egypte, Nubie,

tated i n part by advances i n transportation, such as the large-

published i n 1852 i n an edition of t w o hun­

capacity steamship and the railway. Alongside such mechanical

which he selected 3

dred copies. As Claire Lyons shows in her essay, from the

developments there arose an extensive array of support services:

beginning the pursuits of science were alloyed w i t h the lure

travel agencies, hotels and restaurants, guide companies, and

of the spectacular. D u Camp's intended audience was composed

guidebook publishers. Photographs such as Frith's of Egypt

of scholars, but there existed a much wider community of trav­

likewise played a crucial role, i n that they helped make exotic,

elers, both actual and armchair, w h o also wanted the extraor­

distant places appear familiar and welcoming.

dinary new pictures from Egypt. A British

photographer,

Eventually, Frith made another fortune after founding a

Francis Frith (1822-1898), was ready to supply them. Having

large-scale commercial studio that specialized i n travel views.

made his fortune as a wholesale grocer, he turned to photogra­

"Frith of Reigate" produced thousands of beautifully com­

phy and went to Egypt i n 1856, returning twice over the next

posed, finely printed photographs of famous places. As such

several years to make more photographs.

locales became more accessible, each of them gradually joined

from

O n his trips to Egypt, Frith produced w o r k that ranged

a more or less predictable itinerary for visitors. To have seen

magnificent sixteen-by-twenty-inch mammoth-plate

certain sites and monuments became virtually obligatory. From

images to ones of much more modest size, such as stereograph

Egypt, for example, we find numerous (and often almost iden­

cards. Using the wet-collodion process — in which a syrupy

tical) views and narrative accounts of the Sphinx, the pyramids,

emulsion was poured onto the glass plate immediately before

the colossal statues at A b u Simbel and Thebes, and the temples

exposure — he obtained pictures of startling clarity and preci­

at Philae and Karnak. One could extend or modify this list or

sion. His remarkable study of the Fallen Colossus, Ramasseum,

create a similar catalogue for any major destination. O f course,

Thebes (fig. 4) could easily illustrate Shelley's "Ozymandias,"

all travelers feel that they make their o w n individual selections,

for the humans, and even the camel, are tiny by comparison w i t h the enormous wreckage of the pharaoh's statue.

4

The

and pride themselves on the singularity of their experiences, but the general principle is clear.

image is revealing i n other ways, too, as i t shows a party of western tourists, which includes a woman decorously sitting sidesaddle on a donkey, accompanied by their Egyptian guides.

INTRODUCTION

11


GREECE

very

Instead of the standard view of the western facade, the

earliest practitioners of photography, and they went

photograph depicts the more dilapidated north side of the tem­

directly to the most famous city, Athens, and its most

ple. As Lindsey Stewart observes, the picture is noteworthy i n

LIKE EGYPT,

G R E E C E A T T R A C T E D some of the

renowned ruins. One view from Excursions daguerriennes

that it shows the temple before it had undergone extensive ren­

(1842) is entitled The Acropolis of

even though the

ovation. Alongside the ancient marble columns stands a portion

Acropolis is visible only in the far distance, dwarfed by the mas­

of rough wooden scaffolding, evidence of the reconstruction

sive columns of the Temple of Olympian Zeus (fig. 5). A t that

process. By contrast w i t h photographs made today, "There is

time, when the medium was in its infancy, writers frequently

considerably less of the colonnade visible in this view, and con­

alluded to the evocative power of the photographic image, to

siderably more of the building is lying in the mounds of rubble

which long habituation has dulled our response. The caption

below." Fully exploiting the daguerreotype's almost hallucina­

Figure 5.

writer describes the effect of this picture as "mournful and

tory wealth of detail, Girault de Prangey seems to have intuited

The Acropolis of

imposing," due to the evidence it provides of the destruction

the relation between the status of the photograph as a fragment

that has occurred over time. Yet, he adds, the image also serves

from the real w o r l d and the fact that the Parthenon had itself

a daguerreotype

to evoke "the wealth, the imagination, and the piety of the

become an assemblage of fragments.

by Pierre-Gustave

Athenians." It may be difficult now to imagine how this little

As i n Egypt, both the photographers and the foreign

Joly de Lotbiniere

grayish picture — only six by eight inches — could support so

travelers w h o bought their photographs had settled on a limit­

of 1839. From

much metaphorical and emotional weight. Nonetheless, there

ed cluster of monuments to represent an entire civilization. The

Athens. Aquatint by Appert of 1842 after

Noel-Marie-Paymal

Athens ,

7

survive enough similar comments from contemporary reviews

Greeks themselves were quick to adopt photography and apply

Excursions daguer-

and essays to indicate that the original viewers really did

it to their o w n cultural treasures. The earliest Greek photogra­

riennes: Vues et

respond strongly to such images, or at least felt that they should.

pher was Philippos Margaritis ( 1 8 1 0 - 1 8 9 2 ) , w h o studied

The fact that the original daguerreotype was converted

painting i n Rome and seems to have learned how to make

Lerebours,

monuments les plus remarquables du globe

into an aquatint and so lost some of its freshness may diminish

daguerreotypes

(Paris, 1842),

our appreciation of the picture from Excursions daguerriennes.

Philibert Perraud

15.2 x 20.3 cm

Fortunately, however, some of the earliest true photographs

Margaritis and Perraud collaborated in 1847 on a set of eleven

(6x8

from Athens have come down to us, including those by Girault

daguerreotype

de Prangey, who, as noted above, visited the city during his

Although their pictures are not so impressive as Girault de

Mediterranean tour in 1842. His whole-plate daguerreotype of

Prangey's, they are important because they clearly demonstrate

the Parthenon, for example, conveys some of the thrill of discov­

that the very first decade of photography's existence saw the

ery that the new medium brought w i t h it (see Stewart fig. 7).

establishment of a canonical set of Athenian views. Visitors

"You w i l l see w i t h pleasure the use I have made of the practical

found their itinerary greatly simplified by the fact that virtually

in.).

G R I 92.R.84, BO X I (01.01).

from

another

(b. 1815).

8

Frenchman

visiting Athens,

I t seems almost certain that

views of the monuments

on the Acropolis.

9

instrument invented by Daguerre," Girault de Prangey proudly

all the most significant ruins are located on or immediately

wrote to a friend. " I n a variety of circumstances I have captured,

adjacent to the Acropolis.

often w i t h complete success, several bas-reliefs and statues from

Needless to say, the Parthenon, boasting illustrious asso­

the Acropolis, many fragments and some complete monuments

ciations w i t h Pericles and the Athenian "Golden Age," was by

from Athens and Rome

I find myself so close to monuments

that it would be so important to possess w i t h total accuracy."

6

far the most revered — and most photographed— of the ancient structures.

10

It was invariably the visitor's principal destination.

INTRODUCTION

13


So, for example, the Baedeker guidebook from 1881 declares

they could forge a direct connection w i t h the past. The photog­

that the Parthenon is "the most perfect monument of ancient

raphers, i n turn, strove to remove from their pictures any

art. [It] occupies the culminating point of the Acropolis, tower­

unseemly intrusion from the present day that might disrupt the

ing above all its neighbors. I t excelled all the other buildings of

viewer's contemplation of the ancient w o r l d . Such free play of

ancient A t h e n s . . . and even i n its ruins presents an imposing and

the imagination, however, also has a less celebratory aspect. I t

soul-stirring spectacle."

11

This brief quotation suggests some of

the temple's metaphorical associations, particularly commin­ gled pathos and grandeur, stemming from the fact of survival

out of sight. The audience for commercial photographs of Greece

where others have fallen. I n addition, as the Baedeker quotation

generally preferred the figures i n the Greek landscape to take

suggests, the Parthenon exemplified the overwhelming tenden­

the form of ancient sculpture. M u c h of the Parthenon's sculp­

cy i n the nineteenth century to identify Greece solely w i t h antiq­

tural decoration had been damaged or destroyed by the explo­

uity, and antiquity solely w i t h the Periclean age.

sion i n 1687 that shattered the temple, and i n 1801 Lord Elgin

Though not so eminent as the Parthenon, the other

had carried off much of what had survived that catastrophe.

monuments on the Acropolis shared its high-Classical pedigree.

The Erechtheion, however, had retained its famous porch of the

Sometimes

Maidens. W i t h their graceful blend of delicacy and strength, the

photographers

such

as

Petros Moraites

(ca.

1835-1905) crafted comprehensive views that included the

Caryatids, as they are called, had long been favorites among

Propylaia, the great ceremonial entryway, and the Erechtheion,

tourists, artists, and photographers. A n image by the Athenian

a complex, multilevel temple that housed shrines to several

photographer

deities (see Papadopoulos fig. 12). Also visible i n Moraites's pic­

depicts the porch i n a dramatic raking light that brings out the

ture are the dome of a medieval cistern and the so-called

carefully wrought folds of drapery as well as the slight differ­

Frankish Tower, actually part of a late-medieval fortification

ences i n face and posture that make each statue unique (fig. 6 ) .

Dimitrios

Constantin

(active

1858-1860S)

15

As John

I n addition, it clearly shows the new section of entablature

Papadopoulos observes, their presence is a reminder of the his­

above the replica that replaced the one Caryatid that L o r d Elgin

torical vicissitudes that had, over the centuries, altered the land­

had removed to London. Sitting next to the base of the porch is

scape on the Acropolis and gradually transformed it from a

a dapper young man holding a sketchpad on his knee. Judging

sacred precinct into an archaeological site.

from the angle of his gaze, we can be virtually certain that this

built into the southwest corner of the Propylaia.

12

Today it is almost impossible, at least for an amateur, to

gentleman was drawing the Parthenon. Constantin's photo­

take a photograph on the Acropolis w i t h o u t including crowds

graph thereby recalls an older form of image making, when

of tourists. By contrast, many nineteenth-century pictures from

travelers themselves drew the scenes they wished to remember.

The dearth of

I n fact, photography, drawing, and travel share a deep histori­

figures was not due to any restrictions imposed by early photo­

cal connection. I n the early 1830s i t was frustration w i t h his

graphic technology, such as long exposure times. Rather, it was

o w n inability to draw a view of Lake Como that prompted

a deliberate choice by the photographers, whose foreign clients

W i l l i a m Henry Fox Talbot ( 1 8 0 0 - 1 8 7 7 ) , one of the inventors

Athens show very few people, i f any at a l l .

13

welcomed the fact that Athens was such a small city and that

of photography, to press on w i t h his experiments i n fixing an

the countryside around i t was sparsely populated. Murray's

image on paper w i t h a lens, chemicals, and sunlight.

Handbook for

Travellers in

Greece

(1854) declares, "The trav­

eller is, as i t were, left alone w i t h antiquity, and Hellas tells her o w n ancient history w i t h complete d i s t i n c t i o n . "

14

M a n y for­

eigners, steeped i n Classical history and literature, fancied that

14

means that the modern residents of the country are often kept

INTRODUCTION


Figure 6.

D I M I T R I O S C O N S T A N T I N (Greek, active 1858-1860S), Caryatid Porch,

Erechtheion, Athens,

1865.

5

Albumen silver p r i n t , 22 x 28 cm (8 /s x 11 i n . ) , J P G M 8 4 . X M . 3 6 6 . 8 . 15


Figure 7.

R O B E R T M A C P H E R S O N (Scottish, 1 8 1 1 - 1 8 7 2 ) , The Colosseum, Rome,

late 1850s.

A l b u m e n silver p r i n t , 24.6 x 39.4 cm ( 9 / i 6 x 15V2 in.), J P G M 84.xo.1378.9. n

16


ITALY

IN T H E D E C A D E S A F T E R T A L B O T A N D D A G U E R R E , p h o t O -

are superb, and he enjoyed a reputation that still endures as one

graphs flooded into western Europe and the United States

of the finest photographers i n Rome, indeed one of the finest

M l from all over the w o r l d . Numerous, rapid advances i n technology—wet collodion, dry collodion, albumen prints,

architectural photographers i n the history of the medium. The triumphal arch and the amphitheater are uniquely

stereographs, carbon prints, photogravures — all fed the seem­

Roman contributions to urban architecture. A t some time i n the

ingly inexhaustible demand for images of other places. Unlike

late 1850s, Macpherson made one of several views of the

Egypt and Greece, Rome had remained on the beaten track of

Colosseum and its setting, including a corner of the Arch of

western European travelers, and i t had been the final stop, the

Titus (fig. 7). Here the great oval arena dominates the land­

M a n y vis­

scape. This was another ancient monument whose size alone

itors had written about their experiences there, and views of its

was enough to elicit wonder among modern visitors. As Charles

culmination, of the eighteenth-century grand t o u r .

16

ancient monuments, i n the form of etched or engraved vedute,

Dickens put i t , " [ I ] t tops the other ruins, standing there, a

were widely distributed. As a result, nineteenth-century visitors

mountain among graves."

brought w i t h them a sense of familiarity that was absent from

had suffered extensive damage, largely because it served as a

20

Over the centuries the Colosseum

quarry for thousands of tons of precut stone. Perhaps ironical­

Egypt and Greece. Rome was also a much larger city than Athens, its mon­

ly, much of Saint Peter's Basilica incorporates stones from the

uments dispersed throughout the urban landscape rather than

Colosseum, as do numerous other churches and private resi­

clustered i n a single central location. M o s t travelers had as their

dences i n the city. Like the Sphinx and the Parthenon, the

primary destination the Colosseum and the area adjacent to i t

Colosseum had come to possess an aura of battered grandeur

that encompasses the Forum and the Arches of Titus and

that only added to its allure. George H i l l a r d , author of a popu­

established

lar mid-nineteenth-century guidebook to Italy, summed up the

commercial photographic studios producing pictures of the

prevailing opinion: " I f as a building the Coliseum was open to

antiquities, and most of their clients, like those of Frith and

criticism, as a r u i n it is perfect. The w o r k of decay has stopped

Constantin, were tourists.

at the exact point required by taste and sentiment."

Constantine. Both foreigners and Italians soon

21

Just as

Among the most accomplished of the early photog­

Greek civilization was construed as the Athenian "Golden

raphers i n Rome was the Scottish-born Robert Macpherson

Age," so Roman history was compressed into the Late Republic

(1811-1872), w h o had originally studied to be a surgeon. His

and Early Empire. Just as the Parthenon had come to represent

interests turned to art, and he moved to Rome. There he was a

Greek civilization as a whole, so the Colosseum became the

journalist, painter, and occasional art dealer until 1851, when

emblem for Roman antiquity.

22

Photographs of the building,

I n an

like Macpherson's, generally depict its most ruined side, where

1853 letter, the famous American sculptor and author W i l l i a m

the upper arcades had been destroyed, leaving an evocatively

Wetmore Story noted, "Macpherson has betaken himself to

uneven silhouette. One could hardly ask for a more effective

he took up photography as a way to support his family.

17

He eventually

visual metaphor for "decline and fall." Once again what we are

compiled a catalogue of more than four hundred photographs

seeing is not a disinterested, objective view of the ancient site

taken in and around the city, available by post i n different sizes,

but an image that has been carefully constructed to convey a

photography and is eminently successful."

18

concisely identified by number and title for ease of o r d e r i n g .

19

particular interpretation of an ancient culture.

Both technically and aesthetically, Macpherson's photographs

INTRODUCTION

17


M a n y of the early Italian photographers i n Rome had begun their careers producing vedute

roof is an elegant formal study i n shape and texture (see Stewart

among the most proficient of these former printmakers was

fig. 3). Like his picture of the Parthenon, i t is made from an

Tommaso Cuccioni ( i 7 9 0 - 1 8 6 4 ) .

23

He began his photograph­

unusual point of view. I t , too, demonstrates a photograph's

ic career at almost exactly the same time as Macpherson and,

ability to isolate a detail from a larger entity and thereby to

like the Scotsman, established what became a flourishing com­

endow i t w i t h significance.

mercial studio.

24

We have noted the attraction exerted by the

"[T]he artist is inevitably at odds w i t h the archaeolo­

grand buildings of antiquity, but there were also smaller struc­

gist," contends the modern writer Christopher Woodward. " I n

tures whose charm appealed to travelers. A t some remove from

the latter discipline," he explains, "the scattered fragments of

the central area around the Colosseum and the Forum, on the

stone a r e . . . clues to a puzzle to which there is only one answer,

banks of the Tiber, stands a small circular structure that i n the

as i n a science laboratory; to the artist, by contrast, any answer

nineteenth century was commonly k n o w n as the Temple of

which is imaginative is correct."

25

28

The opposition, though neat­

Vesta (fig. 8 ) . I t is tucked into Piazza della Bocca della Verita,

ly phrased, is somewhat misleading. Scholars almost never

close to an eighteenth-century Baroque fountain whose sinuous

agree on a single solution to an archaeological mystery; what

lines complement the temple's vertical simplicity. The build­

solutions there are, moreover, do not remain static but evolve,

ing has survived nearly intact; nineteen of its original twenty

under the influence of additional discoveries or new interpretive

marble columns remain. Its location away from the major thor­

techniques. The photographs I have briefly discussed here are

oughfares and commercial activity added to the visitors' grati­

not, and were never intended to be, scholarly records of archae­

fying sense that they were seeing what the ancient Romans had

ological w o r k . N o r , as works of art, are they at odds w i t h

seen. The only discordant note was the modern roof, to which

archaeology, as Woodward might claim. A t the very least, they

many travelers strenuously objected, precisely because it was

provide some valuable information about the state of preserva­

not antique. So, for example, George H i l l a r d praised the grace­

tion of the monuments over a century ago. For us, the photo­

fulness of the temple but added that, "a very ugly roof of red

graphs

A few foreigners dissented from the general

Because they are both art and evidence, they can brighten our imaginations and cast light on a past, whether defined by cen­

J. C. Hare. "The modern overhanging roof has been much objected t o , " he wrote, "but artists admire the exquisite play of light and shadow caused by its rugged tiles and, finding i t a per­

INTRODUCTION

27

have acquired the patina of antiquity.

disparagement,

notably the English expatriate and guidebook author Augustus

fect 'subject,' wish for no change."

themselves

26

tiles is crushed d o w n directly on the capitals of the c o l u m n s . "

18

one such artist. His daguerreotype view of the Temple of Vesta

for the tourist trade;

Girault de Prangey was

turies or millennia, that grows ever more distant.


Figure 8.

T O M M A S O C U C C I O N I (Italian, 1 7 9 0 - 1 8 6 4 ) , Temple of Vesta, Rome, 1 8 5 0 - 1 8 5 9 . 5

Albumen silver print, 22 x 28 c m (8 /s x n in.), J P G M 8 4 . X M . 6 3 6 . 4 . 19


THE AR T AND SCIENC E O F A N T I Q U I TY I N N I N E T E E N T H CENTURY PHOTOGRAPH Y

A

rchaeology, like photography, is both art and science, a journey through time that arrests history in incremental moments. Close allies, each made major contribu足 tions to the other during their formative period. Entering immediately into the service of archaeology at the very moment of its birth, the photograph presented itself as a superior tool for depicting civilizations that had been resurrected by the hands of artists and through the eyes of travelers. Ancient cities and works of art

J not seen for millennia came into view through a technical marvel that pledged

perfect clarity of vision. Prominent among the camera's first subjects were portraits of classical statuary and

panoramas of ruined monuments posed in timeless landscapes. The desire to see symbolic places and to experience their rediscovery vicariously spurred the circulation of images among audiences that enthusiastically supported archaeological research. Pictures of the past underpinned a number of contemporary intellectual, cultural, and political concerns: Where do we come from? What values do the artistic creations of the past embody today? H o w does this heritage shape relations between us, other cultures, and other nations? Looking back on the contributions of photography to a century of archaeological achievements, the art historian Adolf Michaelis summed up what was for many a revelation: " W i t h the help of photography, we have learned to see anew."

1

Claire L . Lyons


Figure i . UNDERWOOD

&

UNDERWOOD

(American, active 1880S-1940S),

"Man

in Study looking through Stereo viewer," ca. 1 9 0 0 . Albumen silver print stereograph. California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside.

The camera played a decisive role i n the rediscovery of

fresh course. The examples presented here testify to changes

antiquity, particularly i n the lands surrounding the Mediter­

in the perception of antiquity as a source of personal aesthetic

ranean

that were keystones

of Europe's

self-conception.

nal identity, and, finally, as a mass-produced

assumed new purpose when photographers first focused their

Comparing images of sites i n the Near East and Egypt w i t h

lenses on ancestral monuments. The following survey traces the

commodity.

images of classical antiquity i n Italy brings these shifts into

collaboration of archaeology, still a young science i n the nine­

sharp relief. I t allows a glimpse beneath the surface of represen­

teenth century, w i t h the emerging technology of photography:

tations that have regularly been categorized as merely documen­

h o w the inventors of photography imagined its application,

tary or touristic.

and h o w they set the study of ancient art and architecture on a

24

and emotive experience, as an authoritative symbol of commu­

Regarding ruins was a pilgrimage for earlier generations, but it

THE

ART A N D S C I E N C E

OF

ANTIQUITY


A significant consequence of the partnership between excavators

and photographers

was the transformation of

The imagery of an archaeological past that photographs made concrete cannot be separated from contemporary con­

archaeology from antiquarian curiosity into an autonomous

cerns of ethnic and political identity. Behind the spectacle of

discipline. The decades of photography's

the

remote, emblematic, and picturesque places stood implicit

1 8 3 0 s - i 8 4 0 s , witnessed intense philosophical debates about

assumptions about the future progress and destiny of nations.

origins. Charles LyelPs Principles of between 1830 and 1833,

a

n

gestation,

Geology,

published

Seen through the lenses of photographers trained as artists and

d the theory of evolutionary biolo­

architects and steeped i n the political ideals of democracy, for

gy that Charles D a r w i n developed in its wake (On the Origin

example, the Parthenon i n Athens embodied multiple, some­

of Species,

1859) substantiated premonitions that the antiquity

times conflicting, values: national landmark, artistic pinnacle,

of man extended back far earlier i n time than theology had

or symbol of political liberty. Other contributions to this vol­

taught. By placing human history and natural history along the

ume suggest ways that the Parthenon's cultural biography has

2

same time line, archaeological science challenged orthodox

been narrated i n pictures (see Papadopoulos figs. 4 - 1 1 and 13;

ways of viewing the development of human society. Photog­

Stewart fig. 7; and Szegedy-Maszak figs. 1 0 - 1 6 and 1 9 - 2 1 ) .

raphy demonstrated at key junctures how the past could be

Embedded i n the imagery of iconic places and works of art are

reconstructed through its physical remains. M o s t importantly,

struggles for political independence, claims of cultural suprema­

it provided a tool to organize and interpret this new source of

cy, and strides toward national unity.

historical information. Archaeologists pursued the positivist

Camera vision — selectively focused, aesthetically i n ­

goal of revealing ancient civilizations as they actually once

formed, incontrovertible — is persuasive. We still operate under

were, by looking at artifacts emancipated from Scripture,

assumptions rooted i n the iconography of historical images,

ancient texts, and the motives of their authors. The study of

which n o w l o o m i n importance over words. M o s t histories

antiquity was thus at the center of an upheaval i n w o r l d view i n

of archaeology, however, give notably short shrift to the role

3

which the stakes were high and verifiable visual evidence was

of photography. Like snapshots i n a souvenir travel album

essential. I n the new faith of science, seeing was believing.

proving that the archaeologist was there and found this,

the

The ability to replicate the reality of the external w o r l d

photographic print is generally accepted as uncomplicated doc­

in an exact and permanent copy was one of the hallmarks of the

umentation. N o t simply windows onto bygone eras, as is n o w

revolution that shook nineteenth-century Europe. M o d e r n tech­

a commonplace, photographs were reproduced i n a thick con­

nologies of communication and transport registered powerful

text of debates about the relationship of past to present. Recent

effects on travel, education, and popular culture, enabling a

considerations of the historical construction of vision and the

universalizing apprehension — the panoptic gaze — of the wider

visual economy usefully locate the photograph at a juncture

w o r l d (fig. 1). Industrialization consolidated a middle-class cit­

where philosophical, scientific, and aesthetic discourses meet

izenry that was increasingly invested in the recovery and preser­

technological, institutional, and political demands.

vation of its o w n regional and national heritage, and that

the imagery of antiquity through this lens reveals the complex

shared an escalating anxiety about questions of cultural authen­

grid of understandings and conditions that stand behind seem­

ticity and legitimacy. A n intrinsically compelling medium, pho­

ingly unimpeded views.

4

Regarding

tography became operative at a time when nation-building centered more and more on tangible symbols and places of col­ lective memory.

THE

ART

AND

SCIENCE

OF

ANTIQUITY

25


B E G I N N I N G S OF A N E W A R T I N A N O L D C I V I L I Z A T I O N

M

optically

From our perspective, i n which pictures in print and on

enhanced vision of antiquity had been predicted at

film are ubiquitous, Egyptology seems a curious, somewhat

OST

OF T H E I M P L I C A T I O N S

for

an

the inception of photography. When he endorsed

abstruse subject in which to invest the immense potential of the

the daguerreotype process in 1839, Francois Arago emphasized

camera. Arago's audiences, however, which counted

the many

them preeminent intellects i n art, philology, physics, and natu­

advantages of Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre's

invention and foresaw

the contribution that

photography

would make to the practice of archaeology.

among

ral history, w o u l d have grasped the wider significance. By describing the merits of daguerreotype images in terms of field documentation, he strategically acknowledged the royal govern­

Everyone will imagine the extraordinary advantages which

ment's record of enlightened support for scholarly enterprises

could have been derived from so exact and rapid a means of

abroad. Groundbreaking discoveries had galvanized the learned

reproduction during the expedition to Egypt; everybody will

w o r l d in the years just prior to the invention of a permanent

realize that had we had photography in 1798 we would pos-

means to capture and fix reflected images of light. D u r i n g

sess today faithful pictorial records of that which the learned

Napoleon's 1799 campaign i n Egypt, a large basalt block

world is forever deprived of by the greed of the Arabs arid the

inscribed w i t h identical texts i n hieroglyphics,

vandalism of certain travelers. To copy the millions of hiero-

Egyptian, and Greek was discovered in the Nile Delta t o w n of

glyphics which cover even the exterior of the great monu-

El-Rashld. A n accidental find, the so-called Rosetta Stone held

ments of Thebes, Memphis, Karnak, and others would

the key to decoding a baffling pictorial language. The expedi­

Demotic

require decades of time and legions of draughtsmen. By

tion to transcribe hieroglyphic texts that covered the extant

daguerreotype one person would suffice to accomplish this

ruins and to draw Egypt's artistic, civic, and geographical fea­

immense work successfully. Equip the Egyptian Institute with

tures justified Napoleon's military and scholarly occupation of

two or three [examples] of Daguerre's apparatus, and before

a country reputed since antiquity to be the source of true wis­

long on several of the large tablets of the celebrated work,

dom. Beginning in 1809, these illustrations were published i n

which had its inception in the expedition to Egypt, innumer-

the magnificent Description de

able hieroglyphics as they are in reality will replace those

compilation of some nine hundred plates that was completed

which now are invented or designed by approximation. These

in 182,8.

designs will excel the works of the most accomplished painters, in fidelity of detail and true reproduction of the

The

decipherment

I'Egypte,

a fittingly monumental

of hieroglyphics

by the

French

Egyptologist Jean-Frangois Champollion, announced in 1822

local atmosphere. Since the invention follows the laws of

and disseminated i n his Grammaire egyptienne

geometry, it will be possible to re-establish with the aid of a

provided an impetus for gathering even more texts that extend­

small number of given factors the exact size of the highest

ed the bounds of written history back by thousands of years. I n

points of the most inaccessible structures.

(1836-1841),

5

seeking the financial support of the government for a tool to carry out the imperatives of Oriental philology, Arago's mission was to assure France's continued preeminence, not only in a field i n which French scholars had already garnered interna­ tional acclaim, but also i n a region of considerable geopolitical

THE

ART

AND

SCIENCE

OF

ANTIQUITY

27


consequence. Given the achievements that France w o u l d attain

Six months after the initial public notice of the daguerre­

in archaeological exploration, research, and photographic doc­

otype, t w o reports on a bill authorizing the government to

umentation throughout the nineteenth century, the great expec­

purchase Daguerre's invention were submitted. Arago's obser­

tations of Daguerre's influential supporters were well founded.

vations at this time were much more specific and appealed

The utility of this visual technology was quickly cham­

directly to French successes i n Mediterranean exploration.

pioned, but epigraphical and archaeological research was not

Among the criteria he charged the Chamber of Deputies w i t h

the foremost application originally envisioned. A n accom­

considering were the originality of the invention, its poten­

plished landscape painter, Daguerre himself saw his invention

tial service to archaeology and the arts, practical usefulness,

primarily as an aid to amateur artists, noting that picturesque

and advantages for science. Often cited, the famous remarks

scenery, castles and country houses, and even portraits could be

quoted above (p. 27) hint at the blatant proprietary claims that

made by giving nature "the power to reproduce herself." I n

northern Europeans w o u l d lay to the patrimony of sovereign

breaking the news of his astonishing device, the popular press

territories i n the southern and eastern Mediterranean. A second

was effusive about its ability to reproduce faithfully "inanimate

report, by the physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, read to the

6

nature... views of the finest monuments and of the most delight­ 7

ful scenery of the whole w o r l d . " I n his initial January 1839

Chamber of Peers, cited the perfect reproductions of bas-reliefs, statues, and monuments that the daguerreotype had demon­

announcement before a meeting of the Academie des sciences

strated, and predicted benefits for industrial and design arts, as

in Paris, Arago enumerated the advantages of the invention

well as for categorizing species i n natural history.

especially for the voyage pittoresque,

a genre of illustrated

These t w o reports jointly heralded key subjects and

travel literature popular since the 1770s that depicted famous

methods that the nascent discipline of archaeology w o u l d soon

monuments and scenic landscapes. The priority on foreign

synthesize: architectural and landscape survey, object taxono­

exploration is not surprising, given the backing of the royal gov­

my, philology, art history, and collecting. Through Arago's per­

ernment for antiquarian and artistic missions from southern

suasive p r o m o t i o n , the daguerreotype was acquired by the

Italy and the Morea i n Greece to the M i d d l e East. Arago's

French government and was presented to the w o r l d as a

emphasis on travel and the efficacy of the daguerreotype i n

beneficent contribution to the future progress of art and sci­

sunny climates ("Egypt for example") suggests an awareness

ence. "To those w h o are not indifferent to national glory, and

that competitors were poised to make similar claims on the

w h o k n o w that a people excels i n achievement over other peo­

technology as well as on overseas ventures.

ples only i n p r o p o r t i o n to their respective progress i n civiliza­ tion, to those we can say that the process of M . Daguerre is a great d i s c o v e r y . . . the beginning of a new art i n an old civi­ lization; it means a new era and secures for us a title to glory."

28

THE

ART

AND

SCIENCE

OF

ANTIQUITY

8


EXPEDITIONARY PHOTOGRAPHY

W

ITHIN

A

FEW MONTHS,

daguerreotypists

Rome, Athens, Ephesos, Baalbek, Cairo, and Jerusalem.

Lotbiniere were making pictures i n Egypt and

Daguerreotypes taken during his 1842-1845 Mediterranean

as the Swiss Pierre-Gustave

throughout the w o r l d (fig. 2). Generally considered one of the

tour comprise scenic panoramas and studies of vegetation i n

first travelers to focus his lens o n the ruins of antiquity, Joly

which the enthusiasm of a first-time traveler t o the eastern

de Lotbiniere set about photographing i n Greece and Egypt as

Aegean and the Levant is apparent. Among the photographs are

soon as daguerreotype equipment could be obtained. Like so

also many strictly architectural studies, made by a keen observ­

many travelers' daguerreotypes, the ninety-two views he made

er of comparative styles of ornament. Numerous views peer

in 1 8 3 9 - 1 8 4 0 are no longer extant, probably because the plates

upward at temple entablatures w i t h their encyclopedic array of

were subsequently used as models for reproductive prints. This

Greek and Roman capitals, decorative moldings, pediments,

involved tracing the outlines of the daguerreotype, which was

and friezes (see Stewart figs. 3 , 1 2 , and 13). His delight i n novel

then reproduced by an etcher i n intaglio for printing, one of

forms reveals a romantic historicist's attitude toward architec­

several manual or chemical procedures that usually damaged

ture as a cultural vernacular. A n historian of M o o r i s h architec­

the original plate. Even i f only as a shadow of the prototype, the

ture i n Spain and Gallo-Roman monuments near his native

debut of the daguerreotype is saved for us via the medium of

Langres i n northeastern France (see Stewart figs. 1 and 15), Girault de Prangey sought the character and destiny of a people

photomechanical reproduction. Joly de Lotbiniere's one-of-a-kind views survive i n some engravings made

for Excursions daguerriennes

(see

in the stylistic lexicon of ornament and building techniques (see Stewart quote p. 71 w i t h note 11). The daguerreotype not only

Papadopoulos fig. 8) and i n aquatints for the splendid trave­

provided truthful

logue Panorama d'Egypte et de Nubie, published by the archi­

across cultures, i t also captured a vision of ancestral structures

illustrations of analogous

developments

tect Hector Horeau i n 1 8 4 1 . Illustrations drawn by Horeau of

persisting amid a rapidly changing w o r l d : "We lament the dis­

his excursion up the N i l e temper

9

the factuality of the

appearance of the old walls of the t o w n of our birth, for they

daguerreotype plate w i t h an Orientalist penchant for peopling

reminded us of the still-living history of its past; we lament the

romantic ruins w i t h nonchalant locals i n native costume.

ivies, the w i l d plants that made the ramparts they decorated so

Western presumptions

dear t o painters . . . vain laments!"

of benign entitlement are triggered

through a potent mingling of architecturally correct perspective and suggestive couleur locale.

10

I n the same year as Arago's announcement

of the

They imply that only the artist

daguerreotype, 1839, the German Egyptologist Richard Lepsius

and his intended audiences have the expertise t o appreciate and

began planning a major expedition t o explore Egypt, record

preserve Egypt's heritage. The illustrations are witnesses t o the

hieroglyphs, and acquire works of art for the museum i n Berlin.

reciprocal influences between traditional expeditionary illustra­

Ironically, the utility of the new process for reproducing ancient

t i o n and the modern objectivity of the photograph, which

inscriptions was limited i n practice. N o t only was the method

Arago and his fellow scientists anticipated w o u l d revitalize the

inconvenient due t o the logistics of transporting cumbersome

praxis of scholarly exploration.

equipment into the field for extended campaigns, but its use

The oeuvre of Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, much

30

w o r k offers us the first sightings of antiquity's capital cities:

Joly de

such

was also hampered by the fact that the image that materialized

of which has recently come t o the attention of scholars, repre­

on the shiny silver surface of the copper plate — enchanting as

sents the true dawn of photography. This astonishing body of

it was—was small and unique. Because the image could not be

THE

ART A N D S C I E N C E

OF

ANTIQUITY


Figure 2. Salle hypostyle de Karnac

(Hypostyle

hall at Karnak), 1841. Aquatint after daguerreotype of ca. 1 8 3 9 - 1 8 4 0 by Pierre-Gustave j o l y de Lotbiniere, 39.7 x 28.3 cm (15V8 x 11V8 in.). From Hector Horeau, Panorama d'Egypte et de Nubie ...

(Paris,

1841), p i . X I I I . GRI 9 1 - B 2 7 6 1 2 .

31


Figure 3.

W I L L I A M H E N R Y F O X T A L B O T (British, 1 8 0 0 - 1 8 7 7 ) , The Colosseum, Rome, Photoglyphic engraving, 5.7 x 7.1 cm (zV4 x 2 / i 6 in.), J P G M 8 4 . X M . 1 0 0 2 . 2 . 13

32

i860.


replicated, except through engraving, it did not allow easy

techniques, for example, those introduced by Louis-Desire

exchanges among the community of scholars. Although a num­

Blanquart-Evrard i n 1851, Talbot's impulse to realize photo­

ber of travelers and amateurs soon made daguerreotypes of

graphically illustrated publications became economically viable.

ancient architectural monuments in far-flung parts of the w o r l d ,

11

Correspondence between Talbot and numerous schol­

by and large these belonged to the genre of the voyage pit-

ars, artists, and travelers to ancient lands had an immediate

toresque rather than to the systematic catalogue. Better suited

impact on the spread of photography as an indispensable tool

to the needs of archaeologists i n the field was a contemporary

on voyages of discovery. He frequently taught novices, and he

invention that held several advantages.

received numerous letters telling of the promise and frustration

First developed i n 1835 and perfected by 1840, W i l l i a m

of photography on site. Eager to see the calotype process

Henry Fox Talbot's negative-positive procedure, through which

employed in the field, Talbot pressed archaeologist colleagues

multiple prints could be generated, was a major stride along the

to adopt it: " N o t h i n g excels the photographic method i n its

road to rapid dissemination of precise visual surrogates. N o t

power of delineating such objects as form your researches, as

atypical in a generation of polymaths whose inquisitive intel­

ruins, statues, basreliefs... and I should think it w o u l d be high­

lects spanned the humanities and sciences, the British physicist

ly interesting to take a view of each remnant of antiquity before

Talbot achieved international recognition for mathematical

removing i t , & while i t still remains i n situ 6c surrounded w i t h

contributions and translations of Assyrian texts i n addition to

stones &c bushes 6c

his photographic researches. Among the subjects of his early

nature."

photographic negatives, which he named calotypes (after the

environments, i n fact, played a large hand i n hastening techni­

Greek w o r d kalos,

cal innovation, efficiency, and quality of photographic images.

beautiful), were casts of antique busts and

12

all the other accompaniments of w i l d

The rigors of outdoor photography i n inhospitable

cuneiform inscriptions, subjects that he later addressed i n his

The first generation of photographers instructed others

numerous publications on Assyriology and classical antiquity.

and exchanged practical guidance. W o r d spread rapidly and

Talbot's

to

generated an excitement that had immeasurable repercussions.

Hieroglyphics," reproduced a photograph of a drawing of a

Impressed by an exhibition of calotype prints at the 1851

1846

p u b l i c a t i o n , "The

Talbotype A p p l i e d

Crystal Palace exhibition i n London, a student of Talbot's,

hieroglyphic text, reflecting his antiquarian interests. Reproducibility, the prime feature of the negative that

Auguste Le Plongeon, shared formulae developed on Saint

made mass copies feasible i n ways daguerreotypes could not,

Thomas i n the V i r g i n Islands w i t h L o r d Russell, a photogra­

was an application that Talbot promoted heavily. M u l t i p l i ­

pher i n Egypt, helping to improve techniques.

cation allowed photography to be directly integrated into the

success, Le Plongeon went on to become the first photographer

existing graphic media and so, for the first time, to be shared

of Inca megalithic structures i n Peru i n the early 1860s. W i t h

in a meaningful way. This had revolutionary consequences for

his wife, Alice D i x o n , he accomplished the earliest panoramic

13

From this early

the publishing industry and for the wider public's access to

stereograph documentation of Maya temple glyphs at Chichen

and consumption of illustrations of ancient art and archae­

Itza and U x m a l i n the Yucatan of M e x i c o i n 1873 (%• 4)- Le

ology. Themes drawn from the fine arts point to Talbot's

Plongeon

figured

among the pioneers w h o helped to shift

absorption w i t h art reproduction. I n addition to the hieroglyph

archaeological documentation away from its dependence on

pamphlet, his oeuvre includes calotypes and photomechanical

artistic interpretation and toward more neutral visual represen­

prints depicting classical statuary, the L i o n Gate at Mycenae,

tations, but the t w o modes — facsimile and rendition — contin­

and the Colosseum in Rome (fig. 3). N o t subsidized by the

ued to play a necessary role.

patent

Responding to Talbot's communication and impressed

rights to his process, which initially stifled its wider diffusion.

by several enclosed samples of calotypes, Richard Lepsius was

W i t h the development of more efficient plioLogiaphic p i i n l i n g

-keen-to-experiment on his o w n . He harbored reservations about.

government as Daguerre was, Talbot retained the

THE

ART

AND

SCIENCE

OF

ANTIQUITY

33


the difficulty of obtaining and storing pre-prepared paper on

supply sources — made the production of daguerreotypes and

long journeys, such as the one he was about to embark upon in

paper photographs an uncertain and often counterproductive

Egypt. D u r i n g a stay in England just prior to his departure at

affair. The difficulties that discouraged Lepsius's team also pre­

the end of July 1842, he apprenticed w i t h the inventor. Among

sented a barrier to Sir Charles Fellows, who directed collecting

his final tasks was a request for more paper and the purchase of a camera obscura.

14

Though Lepsius was clearly intending to

campaigns i n Lycia on behalf of the British Museum. W r i t i n g to Talbot i n 1843,

n

e

expressed his intentions to have molders

photograph Egyptian hieroglyphs, there is no indication i n his

make casts of sculptural reliefs and impress-paper copies of

grand publication Denkmdler aus

inscriptions. Three-dimensional duplicates of in-situ remains

Agypten und

Athiopien

( 1 8 4 9 - 1 8 5 9 ) that this was actually accomplished. Reportedly

supplemented the shipload of sculptures and architectural frag­

his equipment was damaged during the sea crossing en route to

ments from funerary monuments i n Xanthos, the main city i n

Alexandria. Instead, several artists and architects accompanied

Lycia, that Fellows brought back to London. He was willing to

the expedition, including Joseph Bonomi, whose skills had been

attempt p h o t o g r a p h y — " i f I can through your means call the

honed on Robert Hay's mission to Qurna and Philae i n Egypt

Sun which is ever at command to aid me"—and, like Lepsius,

in the 1820s. Bonomi and fellow artist Ernst Weidenbach relied

he was eager to learn.

on traditional methods of illustration: tracing, taking paper impressions of hieroglyphs, and drawing measured elevations of

My great objections some years ago to trying the

significant architectural monuments.

Daguerotypes [sic] were the expense of the plates, the

Panoramas of the ruins i n their landscape settings made

extreme care in excluding light & the [destruction*] caused

by Lepsius's artists suggest the use of the camera lucida i n the

by contact. These were fatal to their use in the rough travel-

meticulous delineation of the masonry courses that composed

ing of Turkey.... I

the core of an eroding stepped pyramid and the scatter of blocks

like to take charge of this department myself [and] make

and stones that dot the rough terrain at its base.

15

A simple

should if applicable to my purposes much

myself master of the art of applying it—distant landscape

prism, the camera lucida allowed one to outline a scene that

is the most required by me by which I mean also views of

was made to appear as i f it lay on the surface of the paper. The

inaccessible [tombs*] in the rocks.

device, invented i n 1806, was inextricably linked w i t h the impe­ tus to make factual pictures. I n the hands of scientist Sir John Herschel,

it enabled

a proto-photographic

observation of

Several months later, Fellows abandoned his ambition, citing

botanical specimens, geological formations, and scenic monu­ ments (fig. 5). His later desire to fix images permanently i n ever more subtle gradations of light and shadow led Herschel to

the purpose, the nicety required in using the chemicals, and

The instru­

the extreme cleanliness and exclusion of light in the process;

ment was popular among topographical artists and architects

I fear the science is not ripe enough for the use of the rough

various pathbreaking photographic discoveries.

16

as an enhancement to objective seeing. Realistic illustrations

traveler . . . considering the increase of care and trouble

that could be achieved by an adept draftsman constituted an

given to the party, the cost of the fitting out, as well as think-

intermediate step between interpretive drawings and precise

ing the subjects not altogether applicable to show the best

camera vision.

power of the instrument.

Photography was less effective than drawing for making facsimiles of certain kinds of archaeological subjects, especially in its first decade when the conditions of

fieldwork—extreme

climates and lengthy voyages to destinations

34

the great imperfection in the manufacture of paper suited to

THE

ART

AND

SCIENCE

OF

ANTIQUITY

cut off from

17


Figure 4.

A L I C E D I X O N L E P L O N G E O N (British, 1 8 5 1 - 1 9 1 0 ) , Auguste Le Plongeon photographing the Governor's Palace at U x m a l , M e x i c o , ca. 1873. Copy print, 21.6 x 27.9 cm (8V2 x 11 i n . ) , from a wet collodion o n glass plate negative, 12.7 x 20.3 cm ( 5 x 8 in.). F r o m the Augustus and Alice Le Plongeon papers, G R I 2 0 0 4 . M . 1 8 . 35


Technical impediments were not the sole reason that photographic representations were only gradually accepted as tools on excavations. Daguerreotypists, after all, managed to make their way to fairly inaccessible locations quite soon after Arago's announcement. Another key factor in the slow adop­ tion of photography was that archaeological research placed specific demands on explanatory illustration. Scholars such as Lepsius and Fellows had been accustomed to w o r k i n g from tracings and line drawings, whose contours clearly communi­ cated subject matter and corrected lacunae i n the original. Illustrations generally reflect the ethos of their era, and while there was a strong tendency to romanticize antiquity for vari­ ous ideological ends, there was a commensurate

impulse

toward accurate didactic imagery, visible i n the graphic illus­ trations of antiquarians, natural scientists, and architects.

Figure 5. SIR J O H N

F.

W.

HERSCHEL

(British, 1 7 9 2 - 1 8 7 1 ) ,

The legibility and interpretive " p o i n t i n g "

18

of drawing, i n

which important features could be selectively highlighted, never

"The Coliseum, Rome ( w i t h extreme care & precision)," M a y 17, 1824. Graphite drawing made w i t h the aid of a camera lucida, 19.2 x 29 cm (7 Vi

x

11 Vs

in.),

wholly gave way to the undifferentiated inclusiveness of pho­ tographs, even to this day. Photographs were particularly advantageous, as Fellows suggested, i n illustrating sites and monuments panoramically,

JPGM

VL.2005.1.14. Collection of

as integral elements of landscape that could be mapped topo­

Mac Holbert. Scan courtesy of

graphically. A n increasingly prominent raison d'etre of explo­

Nash Editions.

ration throughout the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the field of historical topography had evolved from artistic sightseeing, as, for example, i n the classic illustrated travelogues of the Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier i n Greece and Louis Cassas i n the Levant, to a practice oriented toward chart­ ing the physical development and cultural geography of sites over t i m e .

19

The first uses of the camera for reconnaissance and

mapping, around 1850, coincided w i t h its expanding applica­ tions i n resources.

fieldwork,

survey, and the inventory of heritage

20

THE

ART A N D SCIENCE

OF

ANTIQUITY

37


READING RUINS

T ditions.

21

HE

"BEST POWER

OF T H E I N S T R U M E N T "

was

realized by the mid-nineteenth century, when photog­ raphy became a more regular feature of research expe­ Following on the topographical tradition, many of the

earliest photo-documentary views of ancient buildings involved a visual mapping of architectural complexes densely embel­ lished w i t h sculptured friezes, paintings, and incised texts. Equally absorbed by the technology of the camera and the mar­ vels of antiquity that i t captured, photographers turned their lenses to imposing architectural remains on three continents. Frederick Catherwood and Emmanuel von Friedrichsthal i n the Yucatan ( 1 8 3 9 - 1 8 4 1 ) , Jules Itier i n China and Egypt ( 1 8 4 3 - 1 8 4 6 ) , A d o l p h Schaefer at the Temple of Borobudor i n Java (1844), and the Baron Alexis de LaGrange i n India (1849) were among the first to train their cameras on exotic architec­ tural styles.

22

Their views fed an appetite for the bizarre and at

the same time accomplished an indispensable slab-by-slab tran­ scription of glyphs, hieroglyphics, and narrative reliefs that enveloped sacred structures. The accuracy of photographs especially recommended their use for recording intricate decoration and facilitated a sys­ tematic reading of buildings literally as texts i n stone, legible across their facades. The advent of big digs underwritten by substantial state and institutional funding called for advanced documentary techniques that appropriately credited enlight­ ened rulers w h o supported

the vanguard of scholarship.

Consequently, i t is not coincidental that many pioneer archaeo­ logical photographers were active on expeditionary campaigns in Egypt and the M i d d l e East. Here the chronicles of w o r l d his­ tory were literally carved on monument walls, awaiting trans­ mission and translation. The parlance of the day cast M a x i m e D u Camp and Felix Teynard as archaeologists, for their interest i n depicting the colossal remains of Egypt's pharaonic past. Outfitted w i t h a full panoply of equipment, their journeys represent transitional stages between the artistic voyage and the scientific expedition.


Several divergent trajectories that infuse the genre of archaeo­

monumental architecture and sculptures still standing w i t h i n

logical photography, a term that was still being applied loosely,

the layers of the mound unfolds before the camera's lens i n a

are evident i n the images they brought back. D u Camp's liter­

series of daguerreotypes that date to 1853.

ary sensibilities could not help but be sharpened by his travel

Despite Tranchand's attention to mud-brick structures

companion Gustave Flaubert, and they emerge clearly i n an

and artifact finds, there is a "eureka" quality to these and a

anthology of views, Egypte, Palestine

published

number of other photographically illustrated publications

shortly after their 1849 t r i p .

23

et

Syrie,

Awe, a presentiment of insig­

printed during the heyday of Egyptian and Near Eastern explo­

nificance i n the face of the enormity of ancient Egyptian

ration. Perched atop ruined walls or leaning w i t h casual famil­

civilization — these are the sensory impressions that his salted

iarity against the flanks of a colossal Assyrian human-headed

paper prints such as the oft-reproduced image of one of the

bull, the triumphant archaeologist-custodian stakes a claim to

colossi at A b u Simbel, continue to provoke (see Plate 1).

the monument.

25

Portraits of archaeologists "capturing" statues

Felix Teynard departed for Egypt just as D u Camp and

of lions and mythical creatures or climbing the crumbling

Flaubert returned to Paris. It was the express goal of Teynard, a

remains of vanquished empires are a recurrent trope of territo­

civil engineer from

Grenoble, to update the encyclopedic

rial conquest (see fig. 8 and Plate v n ) . Standing behind these

VEgypte w i t h discoveries of the intervening three

adventurous treasure hunts were imperial ambitions, trade

Description de

decades. Though he regarded himself as a tourist, his technical

opportunities, and quests to validate biblical tradition. The

background likely guided an appreciation for the structural

rhetoric of salvage informs the official mandate of exploratory

achievements of ancient Egyptian architects (see Plate 11). I n an

missions to inventory the artistic patrimony of colonial empires

album published i n 1858, Egypte et Nubie,

his perspectives on

that were direct heirs to antiquity. A harvest of ethnographic

the siting of monuments and their relationship to the landscape

and archaeological objects soon stocked museum vitrines, i n

24

are reminiscent of an earlier era of e x p l o r a t i o n . The impor­

which cultures at Europe's periphery were neatly itemized. As

tance of this and a dozen other photographic publications that

some critics have observed, the visual logic of the photograph —

appeared during the 1850s and 1860s lies i n the new visual

self-evidently "true" and effortlessly multiplied—was an effec­

modes i n which the wonders of the East were presented for con­

tive tool by which Western powers leveraged political and eco­

sumption by the public. W i t h the purchase of each installment,

nomic advantages to establish Eurocentric hegemony over the

readers were guided by a sequence of ostensibly unbiased images

domain of universal history.

that guaranteed the truthfulness of written descriptions. As a

The physical and conceptual movement of artifacts from

substitute for the personalized experience of travel, they offered

the realm of local patrimony to that of universal or global her­

at once a w i n d o w onto the outside w o r l d and a powerful device

itage was premised on a positivist reliance on tangible evidence.

through which to represent and ultimately to possess i t . In this endeavor few areas were more critical than the

Colonial agendas notwithstanding, scientific curiosity was a driving force of the new discipline. The camera favored empir­

M i d d l e East, where troves of texts from ancient Mesopotamia

ical knowledge of antiquity by allowing irregular or anomalous

and Assyria awaited. These sites, linked by tradition to the O l d

sites and objects to be placed into predictable, hierarchical

and N e w Testaments, held out the hope that archaeology,

frameworks,

i n a "system

of controlled

resemblances."

26

paradoxically a challenger to spiritual authority, might also

Photographs were called on both to witness the reliability of

demonstrate the Bible's essential truthfulness. Some of the first

texts and to corroborate archaeological discoveries that might

archaeological

depart from or even contradict written history. F r o m the early

excavation shots were

taken

by Gabriel

Tranchand for the mission of Victor Place to Khorsabad i n Iraq

1850s, methodical reproduction of excavation finds became the

beginning i n 1851. They depict the progressive unearthing of

top priority. The introduction of albumenized paper and collo­

the Palace of Sargon 11, King of Assyria. The labor of exposing

dion glass negatives, which produced images i n

THE

ART

AND

SCIENCE

fine-grained

OF

ANTIQUITY

39


detail, greatly accelerated the use of photography i n the field.

Auguste Salzmann's photographs exhibit a fusion of the

As aide-memoire, facsimile illustrations permitted comparative

aesthetic and the documentary impulses that parallels Greene's

study of objects, their styles, and their development over time.

oeuvre. While Salzmann's images of architecture i n Jerusalem

The key to this approach rested i n w o r k i n g out relative

reflect an excavator's eye for building phases and materials, his

chronology by examining successive strata. Strides made by

rigorously cropped detail studies of textured masonry and

northern European archaeologists i n object seriation demon­

brickwork appeal, like certain of Greene's views, to a minimal­

strated the possibilities of reconstructing the past through mon­

ist taste for the fragment. Salzmann, w h o was trained as an

uments and the residues of daily life. History was inscribed, not

artist, discovered the Orient during travels i n N o r t h Africa and

only horizontally on the surfaces of citadel walls, but also ver­

a stint collecting Egyptian objects for the museum i n Colmar i n

tically through time according to the superimposition of foun­

1 8 4 7 - 1 8 5 1 . He initiated a photographic campaign i n Palestine

dations, building phases, and the layering of art and artifacts.

w i t h the express objective of validating a chronological propos­

One perceives this essentially archaeological vision i n photographs

taken by John Beasley Greene and Auguste

al of archaeologist Felix de Saulcy that the city of Jerusalem pre­ served architectural remains from the period of Solomon.

Salzmann, t w o practitioners w h o began their careers w i t h the

Saulcy's interpretation relied on rereading the superimposition

study of Egyptian antiquity before taking up the

of architectural strata, and i t ignited fierce polemics until

camera.

Greene was trained i n Oriental philology by Champollion's suc­

Salzmann's

photographs

supplied

visual

confirmation.

cessor, the Vicomte Emmanuel de Rouge, conservator of the

Published i n Jerusalem, Etude

Egyptian collection at the Louvre. Greene's first voyage to

des monuments de

Egypt, i n 1853, resulted i n t w o sets of photographs titled

the partiality of mere words and manual drawings — they are

Sculptures et

Inscriptions Egyptiennes

and Monuments et

et reproduction photographique

la Ville sainte ...

(1856), the images surpass

"brute facts," as Saulcy approvingly called them. I t is possible

Paysages, which include documentation of Auguste Mariette's

that Greene saw Salzmann's Jerusalem photographs i n 1854,

excavations of the Sphinx, perhaps the first deliberate excava­

before departing on his second excursion to Egypt.

tion records i n Egypt. Later, Greene himself excavated at Medinet H a b u and published the results i n Eouilles executees a Thebes dans Vannee 1855.

28

Reading ruins was a literary journey as much as a phys­ ical act of revealing history layer by layer, page by page.

Twelve salted paper prints method­

Providing journalistic coverage of unfolding excavations, the

ically illustrate the statue of Ramesses 111. General views taken

photograph was the ideal accompaniment to archaeological

in Egypt and Algeria include some notably m i n i m a l landscapes,

publications that were part travelogue, part personal diary, and

vacant of habitation to the horizon, and abstract tumbles of

part official record. For the English archaeologist

rock. Such views have been seen by historians of photography

N e w t o n , photographs publicized the solution to a topographi­

as quintessentially modern and attract the most attention. I n

cal conundrum, the site of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus,

Charles

Greene's w o r k , however, the realia of Egyptian antiquity pre­

one of the Seven Wonders of the W o r l d i n ancient times. The

dominate. His attention to inscriptions, to the delineation of

precise location of the mausoleum below the t o w n of Bodrum

architectural space, and to sequential coverage of important

(the modern Halicarnassus) had been the subject of speculation

contexts registers the perspectives of an archaeologist i n spirit

and soundings

and practice (fig. 6 ) .

2 7

1856-1857

by several investigators before

Newton's

expedition, which was funded by the British

Museum. As keeper of antiquities, Newton's immediate aim was to secure for the museum the remaining marbles, to supple­ ment those parts of the Amazon frieze that it already possessed. M u c h of the labor and support were provided by the crew of H M S Gorgon,

40

THE

ART

AND

SCIENCE

OF

ANTIQUITY

w i t h t w o sappers, L t . Benjamin Spackman and


Figure 6 .

J O H N B E A S L E Y G R E E N E (American, b. in France, 1 8 3 2 - 1 8 5 6 ) , Thebes, Medinet Salted paper p r i n t , 23.2 x 30.8 cm {9V9 x izVs

Habu,

1853-1854.

in.), J P G M 8 4 . X M . 3 6 1 . 1 9 . 41


Lt. McCartney, appointed as photographers. Engineering skills

Delbet's photographs, reproduced as photolithographs, illus­

suggested ingenious solutions, such as photographing a large

trate Perrot's publication of classical and prehistoric remains

mosaic pavement from vertical scaffolding (fig. 7). This is one

from Bogazkoy, Yazilikaya, and several other sites in Galatia,

of the few views i n which excavators are shown together w i t h

Bithynia, and

local w o r k m e n , though occasionally landowners, w i t h w h o m

process, which produced a pigmented carbon print, imparted

N e w t o n closed hard bargains, are present.

the palpable texture of rough stone surfaces and an atmospher­

M o s t of the illustrations focus on details of building construction, which offer tangible proof for identifying the site w i t h the great monument described by Pliny (Natural History

The newly patented Poitevin

ic, pictorial rendering of scenic ruins and mountain villages i n the distance.

30

Bringing to light an u n k n o w n culture on the fringes of

3 6 . 4 . 3 0 - 3 2 ) as a stepped pyramid surmounted by a four-horse

the classical w o r l d , these were the first actual views of some of

chariot. M i n o r objects do not figure prominently, perhaps

the most important centers of Hittite culture, whose cuneiform

because the sculptural program of the mausoleum had been

script continued to puzzle philologists. Even when reproduced

reduced to rubble. Documentary views show foundations laid

at one remove from the originals, Delbet's photographs pro­

bare by tools that are carefully arrayed around trenches, or an

vided striking and informative illustrations of pre-Greek art

overturned colossal lion being slowly righted (fig. 8). They

(fig. 9). Topographical panoramas, landscape views of the

appear beside illustrations conceived i n the romantic mode of

sculpted rock faces, and details of figural reliefs join outline

picturesque travel: a jumble of debris at Bodrum, derelict ruins

drawings and tracings. While the drawings restore w o r n areas

of the Temple of Hekate enduring on an isolated rise at Lagina,

that are difficult to make out i n the photographs and articulate

and Demeter's forsaken sanctuary on Knidos. The iconography

depictive fine points of hair and costume, the photographs,

portrays a mission to retrieve a wondrous monument from

taken i n raking light, reveal toolmarks, degrees of weathering,

oblivion (and the oblivious), w i t h the heroic figure of the

and depth of the three-dimensional carvings, that is, the physi­

archaeologist at center stage. The narrative of the pictures

cal characteristics seen i n overall context, rather than simply

confirms Newton's approach to the monumental and artistic

single elements of iconography abstracted from the whole.

29

The campaign faced the usual problems of controlling

Photographs of Halicarnassus were displayed i n Rome in i 8 6 0

light and shadow i n cramped spaces, weather, and the disap­

remains of Halicarnassus as "vouchers for printed h i s t o r y . "

at the Palazzo Caffarelli, seat of the Istituto d i Corrispondenza

proval of local onlookers to acts of illustration. I n the accom­

Archeologica. They were not only acclaimed by the public, but

panying text, Perrot is sensitive to representational subtleties

they also inspired archaeologists such as Alexander Conze, w h o

and cognizant of deformations and scale changes created by

w o u l d make his o w n mark i n exploring the eastern Aegean and

oblique angles, noting that Delbet's images were more success­

recording i t w i t h photography at Samothrace.

ful when the sun was voile (filtered), as opposed to the effect of

I n the absence of written descriptions, art and artifacts

bright sunlight, which produced a harsher image. " I t is only i n

from little-known cultures had to be confronted on their o w n

recent times that one has begun to understand what religion of

terms. W i t h the support of Napoleon 111, the survey expedition

exactitude and what delicacy of scruples one must apply to the

of Georges Perrot and Edmond Guillaume i n eastern Turkey set

monuments of antiquity," he wrote, launching into a critique of

out for a region that had barely been explored since the voyage

artists — the products of academic tradition and studio prac­

pittoresque

42

Cappadocia.

of Charles Texier i n 1834. Accompanied by the

tice, w h o draw all moldings i n the beaux-arts style of the distin­

photographer Jules Delbet, a team set out on M a y 2, 1861,

guished architects Percier and Fontaine. "The worst fault is to

after completing its official charge to copy an inscription on the

rob the works of very different peoples of their particular char­

Temple of Augustus and Rome i n Ankara. Visual documenta­

acter, their original accent, the local and sometimes unique

tion then took on a much more subtle task. Thirty-one of

nuance that distinguishes them . . . thus strange figures emerge

THE

ART

AND

SCIENCE

OF

ANTIQUITY


looking like bad Graeco-Roman reliefs, leading one to confuse 31

primitive art w i t h decadence." Perrot's insight echoed the out­

theory—act as an objective check upon the mediating presence of the artist's hand and could accord art forms of other cultures

look of Girault de Prangey and was particularly significant at a

and time periods their singular expressive qualities. M o s t

time when the roots of Greek artistic genius were sought i n the

significantly, photography enabled scholars to discern the traits

East, and the distinctiveness of pre-Hellenic art forms was just

of art that were indicative of the essential character of a people,

beginning to be appreciated. As a tool for visualizing stylistic

a connection that was exploited w i t h the greatest consequences

affinities and cultural traits, photography could — at least i n

in the study of sculpture.

Figure 7.

BENJAIMIN

L.

SPACKMAN

(British, active 1856), Tesselated Pavements

Field of Hadji Captan,

Photolithograph, 22.9 x 27.9 cm ( 9 x 1 1 in.). From Charles T. N e w t o n , A History of Halicarnassus, Cnidus,

&

Branchidae

(London, 1863), vol. 1, pi.

XXXVIII.

GRI

1856-1857.

Discoveries at

84-B749. 43


Figure 8. BENJAMIN

L.

SPACKMAN

(British, active 1 8 5 6 ) , View of Colossal Lion after Being Raised, 1856-1857.

Photolithograph, 2 2 . 9 x 27.9

cm

(9

x

11

in.).

From Charles T. N e w t o n , A History of

Discoveries

at Halicarnassus, Cnidus, & Brancbidae

(London,

1 8 6 3 ) , Vol. I , pi. L X I .

GRI 84-B749.

Something of each of these visual strategies pursued by

44

ars about his methods and motives. His excavation team includ­

pioneer archaeological photographers is evident i n the publica­

ed a photographer from the Dardanelles named Siebrecht, w h o

tion of Heinrich Schliemann's stunning discoveries. Few archae­

was charged w i t h documenting the lay of the land. Drawings of

ologists could claim the success that Schliemann earned at Troy

objects, trenches, and most of the finds were sent to Athens to

in 1 8 7 1 , and later at Mycenae, by trusting i n the ancient texts.

be photographed by Panagos Zaphiropoulos. W r i t i n g to John

Locating the fabled site of Homer's Iliad at H i s s a r l i k — a n iden­

Turtle Wood, w h o was then conducting excavations at Ephesos,

tification championed by the U.S. vice-consul and field archae­

Schliemann laid out his plan: " I think therefore to publish n o w

ologist Frank Calvert — Schliemann's excavations sought and

at once a book both i n Greek and i n German w i t h photographs

found proof that m y t h and history might be one. A n ambitious

of all the most curious things found here. D o you not think

amateur w i t h the financial resources to indulge his passions,

[this] is a good plan i n order that the thing might become thor­

Schliemann was familiar w i t h the skepticism of learned schol­

oughly k n o w n ? "

THE

ART

AND

SCIENCE

OF

ANTIQUITY

32


Figure 9. JULES D E L B E T

(French, active 1860s), Pterium (Boghaz-Kem) lasili-Kaia Bas-Relief du Couloir

(Bogazkoy,

Yasihkaya, low relief in the entrance passage), ca. 1861. Photolithograph, 26.7

x

(10V2

21 cm x 8V4

in.).

From Georges Perrot, Exploration archeologique de

la

Galatie et de la Bithynie...

(Paris,

1862-1872), pi. 51. G R I 2569-177.

45


Figure 10. PANAGOS T. ZAPHIROPOULOS

(Greek, active 1870s), Tresor de Priam decouvert a 8V2 metres de profondeur

(Treasure

of Priam discovered at a depth of 8V2 m), 1872. Albumen silver print, 24.2 x 17.1 cm (9V2 x 6 A in.). F r o m 3

Heinrich Schliemann, Trojanischer Alterthumer...

(Leipzig,

1874), p i . 192. GRI 85-B3813.

46


To accompany his publication Trojaniscber Alter-

in a visual vocabulary that became standard for subsequent

tbumer (1874), Schliemann commissioned four hundred sets of

field-excavation

reports.

an atlas containing 218 separately mounted, original photo­

While Schliemann was eager to vindicate his prehistoric

graphs unveiling the Trojan discoveries (fig. 1 0 ) . The publica­

speculations w i t h the camera, other German scholars preferred

tion was a best seller, and the atlas doubtless fed the excitement

to turn its lens toward the familiar refinements of Hellenism.

evident in the popular press that the Homeric city of Priam had

The archaeologist Alexander Conze had been on hand for

been brought back to light. Talbot's family letters are filled w i t h

Charles Newton's Halicarnassus exhibition i n Rome, but it was

the news. Visual proof did not quell suspicions of foul play,

several years before he was ready to launch his o w n excavation.

voiced by onlookers, including Talbot's daughter Rosamond:

By comparison w i t h the expeditionary photographs of most

"What surprises me most is that such enormous treasures can

archaeologists i n the eastern Mediterranean, those of Conze are

have remained undisturbed for so many centuries, and then

recognized for the exceptional skill devoted to the task of site

33

documentation. Conze excavated at the Sanctuary of the Great

In the murky, poorly focused, and hastily processed prints one

Gods at Samothrace i n 1 8 7 3 - 1 8 7 5 . He commissioned the pho­

were simply dug out where they were expected to be f o u n d . "

detects the overwhelming labor of organizing and meticulously

tographer W i l h e l m Burger to take pictures, which were later

labeling the finds and then producing thousands of photograph­

printed i n M u n i c h .

ic prints for the portfolio. The result was a great disappoint­

Halicarnassus, the Samothrace series presents site views of

ment to Schliemann, w h o vowed not to use photography again.

trenches w i t h the foundations of the sanctuary appearing just

N o t surprisingly, however, he embraced i t to publicize his next great discovery, the shaft graves at Mycenae.

34

The importance of Trojaniscber Altertbiimer

Similar to Newton's illustrations of

beneath ground level. Tools, but only rarely w o r k m e n , are posed beside key features that offer proof of the architectural

lies i n the

ambitious circulation of original photographs to illustrate more than thirty-six hundred objects in approximate stratigraphical

reconstruction Conze proposed. As a proponent of grand-scale

archaeology,

Conze

insisted on a rigorously systematic excavation that accorded the

order, as evidence supporting the author's claims. The plates

humble evidence of material culture its place i n the painstaking

portray rows of objects disposed on shelves and regularly anno­

reconstruction of ancient life. His holistic conception of context

tated w i t h the depth i n meters at which each was positioned.

is evident i n the illustrations, which were distributed as

Most are mundane pots and spindle whorls, repetitions of sim­

albumen photographs mounted onto the pages of t w o folio vol­

ilar types rather than a selection of normative specimens, but

umes of Arcbaologiscbe Untersucbungen

auf

Samotbrake

for Schliemann, they were great prizes. This chronological sur­

( 1 8 7 5 - 1 8 8 0 ) . His conviction that even fragments

vey of object typology, so central to archaeological interpreta­

insight into their creators and must join the monumental evi­

contain

tion, breaks off w i t h a series of plates showing landscape

dence of buildings, art, and inscriptions was forward looking.

sketches and views of excavations i n progress, w i t h structures

Though Conze is credited w i t h a strictly historicist approach

coming to light as the layers of the mound of Hissarlik are

that shifted the attention of German scholars away from their

peeled away. Site and object photographs reinforce the idea

strongly aesthetic and humanistic orientation, the photographs

of chronological development and the value of stratified arti­

reveal an equal regard for the utilitarian and the beautiful.

facts i n amplifying ancient literature. "Priam's treasure" is illus­

The image of a fragmentary Ionic capital, mounted and l i t as a

trated toward the end of the portfolio, the culmination of an

w o r k of fine art, elevates a carved volute to the status of sculp­

expedition that ceased w o r k immediately thereafter, though

ture (fig. n ) .

3 6

here Schliemann's data on depth and location are less than precise.

35

For all their deficits, Siebrecht and Zaphiropoulos'

photographs recount a nineteenth-century archaeological epic

THE

ART

AND

SCIENCE

OF

ANTIQUITY

47


Figure n . W I L H E L M

BURGER

(Austrian, 1844 - 1 9 2 0 ) , Ptolemaion, Bruchstuck des Sdulenkapitdls, Vorderansicht (Ptolemaion, fragment of a capital, front view), ca. 1 8 7 3 - 1 8 7 5 . Albumen silver p r i n t , 19.1 x 13.3 cm (71/2 x

51/4

in.).

From Alexander Conze, Archaologische Untersuchungen auf Samothrake

(Vienna,

1875-1880), pi. x x v .

48


P I C T U R I N G T H E C L A S S I C A L PAST

S

OMEWHAT

photography

DIFFERENT

of classical

PRIORITIES

sites

i n the

governed

Despite the facts that Italy was readily accessible to pho­

western

tographers and that innumerable views were made by travelers

Mediterranean, by virtue of the simple fact that the

and by commercial studios for the tourist trade — or perhaps

artistic and literary legacy of Greece and Rome had been sub­

because of this very iconographic abundance — archaeologists

ject to Europe's intensive gaze nearly without pause. The weight

w o r k i n g i n Italy did not immediately make use of photography

of this admiration had a singular bearing on h o w vestiges of the

for excavation documentation. Several factors, practical and

classical legacy were treated. Conze's publication of the remains

political, may account for this. Largely under the control of

of Samothrace signaled that a new ideology vis-a-vis classical

royal or papal authority, antiquity was aligned first and fore­

antiquity had come to preside over its visual representation.

most w i t h the interests of state prestige. Restricted access to the

Grand feats of ancient engineering and renowned masterpieces

results of excavation was official policy, as numerous com­

of art were among the camera's most compelling subjects, as

plaints about the secrecy surrounding finds make clear. M u c h

they had been i n the prior graphic tradition. Early Italian pho­

of the responsibility for drawing rested i n the hands of artists

tography lingered on the idyllic and meditative, seeking out

and architects. Photographic representation threatened to usurp

ruins i n pastoral landscapes of the Roman campagna

and rem­

their stature i n the ranks of what was already a highly struc­

nants of past empire persisting amid the slow rhythms of urban

tured bureaucracy. Volumes of engravings and watercolors

life (fig. 1 2 ) .

37

Pictorialist scenes such as that of the Claudian

depicting fine art treasures, numismatic and epigraphical

aqueduct stage a vision of antiquity that had been familiar since

materials, and "curiosities" circulated mainly among a select

the idealized mythological landscapes of Claude and Poussin.

constituency of connoisseurs and supported elite practices of

Photography competed w i t h standards of visualization

collecting and erudition. Well-illustrated guidebooks directed

that were finely calibrated to subjects — sculpture, painting, and

toward a general readership were not common before the

architecture — considered as paradigms of excellence. Unlike

1820s. Accurate illustrations w o u l d not be widely distributed

the remains of Mesopotamia and Egypt (and i n some cases

u n t i l reproductive technologies such as photolithography

Greece), which had primarily come to light since the early nine­

enabled the generation of multiple high-quality images. The

teenth century, Graeco-Roman antiquity had been a pillar of

invention of photography fueled the desire for visual knowledge

European culture since the Renaissance. Its immense corpus of

but touched off controversies about the relative artistic merits of

artworks was the touchstone for generations of artists. Ruins

mechanical versus manual illustration.

were restored to their original state i n measured elevations

the privileged aura of classical subjects, visual representations

according to the prevailing style of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts,

of them had to negotiate a delicate equilibrium between the aes­

which privileged abstract rules of correct proportion over the

thetic and the factual, the ideal and the prosaic.

38

I n order to maintain

way buildings were actually engineered and adapted to use.

The force of this indelible visual tradition is perceptible

Academically trained draftsmen interpreted ancient paintings

in many early photographs of classical subjects. They are pic­

and sculpture i n hard contour lines that brought remains soft­

turesque, i n the sense of being pictures of pictures.

39

The first

ened by the passage of time into sharper focus. I n their attempt

camera views of the buried city of Pompeii — daguerreotypes

to render the essence of classical antiquity, they imposed Neo­

executed by Alexander John Ellis i n 1841—illustrate favored

classical conventions on subjects that were conceived of as models

stations along the tourist route, beginning w i t h the Street of the

to be emulated rather than as individual specimens to be studied.

Tombs (fig. 13), where most visitors from Naples approached

THE

ART

AND

SCIENCE

OF

ANTIQUITY

49


Figure 12.

A N O N Y M O U S ,

Roma, Acquedotto Claudio

sezione lunga con buttero

(Rome, long section of the Claudian aqueduct

w i t h herdsman), ca. 1870s? A l b u m e n silver p r i n t , 19.6 x 25.6 cm (-y A x 3

I O V S

in.). Joseph Armstrong Baird

collection of nineteenth-century architectural photographs, G R I 8 8 . R . 8 , Box 14 (E85 .18.166). 50


Figure 13.

A L E X A N D E R J O H N E L L I S (English, 1 8 1 8 - 1 8 9 0 ) , Pompeii, the the remains of the Ancient Inn

and (so called) Herculanean Gate.

the house called the Villa of Diomed,

West'Side of

the Street of the Tombs with

From the room built for the Custodi in

A p r i l 2 2 , 1841. Daguerreotype, 1 5 . 2 x 2 1 cm (6 x 8V4 in.).

National Museum of Film, Photography and Television, Bradford, UK. 1 8 9 0 - 0 0 5 6 _ P P I . 51


Figure 14.

S T E F A N O L E C C H I (Italian, b. 1805), Pompei, Casa

del Porno

(Pompeii, Bakery), 1846.

Salted paper p r i n t , 14 x 21.6 cm (5V2 x %Vi in.). From "Fotografi di Roma 1849," G R I 2002.R.45*. 52


the site, and continuing through the Forum and Basilica. Ellis's

Topographical views taken at Pompeii and i n the Roman

views trace the itinerary of popular guidebooks and pause at

Forum were turned by Lecchi to a very different purpose three

scenic overlooks that were often drawn i n the preceding

years later (fig. 14). O u t of context, Lecchi's prints w o u l d be

decades: forests of broken columns, a receding road bordered

counted among the many predictable vedute

by funeral monuments, and M o u n t Vesuvius looming behind

ments that were a specialty of the Roman school of calotypists.

the Temple of Jupiter. Skillfully composed, these daguerreotype

Forty-one salted paper prints by Lecchi were assembled i n a

views display reciprocal influences between painting and pho­

unique photographic album, combining reportage of the devas­

of major monu­

tography. Intending to publish them as engravings i n an illus­

t a t i o n w r o u g h t d u r i n g Garibaldi's 1849

trated monthly magazine, LTtalia in

Ellis hoped

Janiculum against French and papal forces w i t h pictures of the

that the precision of his daguerreotypes w o u l d replace the

remains of Rome's past glory. The juxtaposition of ancient and

"mania to embellish" that led artists to distort and aggrandize

modern ruins served to motivate a cohesive historical identity

dagberrotipo,

40

defense of the

Roman scenes to the disappointment of travelers. The project

by invoking symbolic places such as the Forum, the meeting

did not go forward, and to this we owe the fortunate preserva­

place of revolutionaries and a locus of patriotic spirit i n nation­

tion of unique documents that — like the daguerreotypes of Joly

alist literature. The owner of the album, a member of the British

de Lotbiniere — might otherwise have been destroyed.

liberal upper class that favored the goals of the Risorgimento,

However much they solicit a retrospective glance of nos­

w o u l d have understood the allusions embedded i n Lecchi's 42

talgia, photographs must also be viewed i n the context of intel­

sequential visual narrative.

lectual ferment and political upheavals during an era that

meanings attached by makers and owners highlight the ambigu­

placed heavy demands on the patrimony of the past. The activ­

ities and multivalences of photographs that have been consid­

ity of the Reverend George Wilson Bridges at Pompeii i n 1846

ered transparent empirical documents.

indicates that early on photographs satisfied the self-regard of

Here the issues of context and

Official resolve to initiate comprehensive photographic

the royal court at Naples that oversaw the excavations. Bridges

documentation of Pompeian antiquities was made by the direc­

wrote to W i l l i a m Henry Fox Talbot that the king was so

tor of the Royal Museum i n Naples and superintendent of

pleased w i t h his views of Roman frescoes that he gave permis­

excavations, the Principe di San Giorgio, Domenico Spinelli, at

sion to "copy, move, or measure throughout the K i n g d o m . "

more or less the same time that strictly archaeological photog­

This implies a strong official sanction for photography, espe­

raphy and photographic publications were being pursued i n

cially its success i n recording fugitive wall paintings, treasured

other parts of the Mediterranean. " M o s t interesting news,"

by the Bourbon monarch, that tended to fade soon after expo­

Giulio M i n e r v i n i reacted i n the December 1853 issue of the

sure. During his Neapolitan sojourn, Bridges encountered an

Bullettino Archeologico

Napoletano,

reporting that the court

Italian calotypist and entrepreneur, Stefano Lecchi, w h o had

had acquired a camera and engaged the services of a photog­

perfected an improved calotype process and was on site w i t h a

rapher named Campanella. For M i n e r v i n i , recording architec­

royal commission to document the excavations: " . . . he makes

tural remains during stratigraphic excavation and rescuing

use of very inferior paper and is more certain of good produc­

paintings from inevitable destruction were the main advantages

t i o n — I saw h i m take 14 one morning at Pompeii w i t h o u t one failure."

41

of these preziosi disegni.

He emphasized that

photographs

should not supplant artists' drawings and watercolor restora­ tions of paintings, which were still vital for capturing the rich polychromy of evanescent pigments. While photography might not be an illuminating way to present "views portraying a com­ plex of buildings," he observed, it is most beneficial when applied "to obtain reproductions of all the details w o r t h y of

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53


study i n every part of each b u i l d i n g . "

43

Competition between

monarch w h o , i n the preface to his Histoire de

praise. So, too, were the problems of legibility and the inabil­

(1865—1866), proclaimed that "historical truth should be no

ity to reproduce color, which explains some of the reluc­

less sacred than r e l i g i o n . "

Jules Cesar

45

tance to entrust architectural studies to the camera alone. His

Likewise, Giuseppe Fiorelli shared w i t h senior cultural

emphasis on accuracy of detail signaled a recent reorientation

administrators the excitement of his most sensational discovery.

toward the close analysis of architectonic elements and con­

Imprints of human bodies encased i n the volcanic m u d of

struction materials.

Vesuvius were reconstituted by injecting plaster into the cavities

Foreign scholars anxious to acquire their o w n photo­

that were left once organic remains had decayed. A clever foren­

graphs of the finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum devised the

sic procedure, casts put a face to the past, albeit w i t h figures

same idea. The epigrapher Emil Brunn requested permission to

frozen at the last moments of life (fig. 15). I n the hands of the

make drawings by means of photography of all the objects i n

tourist-voyeur, cadaver photographs licensed a morbid specta­

the Royal Museum ("Times have changed!" he argued) and,

cle of w r i t h i n g victims that were de rigeur i n souvenir albums.

moreover, to move them onto the balconies into the light. His

Fiorelli approached them i n the positivist spirit of science,

request was denied by Spinelli, and photography inside the

which revolutionized excavation and museum practices at one

museum was prohibited due to the inconvenience to the custo­

of the paramount classical sites. For both Rosa and Fiorelli, the

dians and the risk to the a r t w o r k s . The anecdote rings a w r y l y

professional study of antiquity was inseparable from the pro­

familiar note. But i t also shows that by mid-century, just a

gressive ideals of the new Italian n a t i o n .

44

54

tion of true classical education"—found w a r m favor w i t h a

artists and photographers is clearly at issue behind Minervini's

46

decade after Lepsius's failed plan to photograph Egyptian

Pictorial conventions attuned to aesthetic appreciation

antiquities, the camera was common enough to make itself a

had to accommodate a different set of theoretical and practical

nuisance i n museums. I t was, additionally, an indispensable tool

issues raised by archaeologists and architects w h o set out to

for scholarship and for bolstering national pride. Both depend­

recover Rome's built past. This was a past to be rediscovered

ed i n no small way on disseminating visual repertoires of t w o

and, moreover, to be renovated. I n several of the instances

core and particularly photogenic branches of classical archaeol­

noted above, photographs of architectural monuments were

ogy, architecture and sculpture.

deployed to communicate a spirit of renewal, i n which antiq­

Regular use of photography during excavations is a

uity was a proxy for modernization. T w o impulses characterize

development usually attributed to the w o r k of Pietro Rosa i n

approaches to ancient structures that were embraced at this

the Roman Forum and Giuseppe Fiorelli at Pompeii i n the

time: cataloging the variety of building types and construction

1860s. Archaeological practice i n Italy broke new ground dur­

techniques as registers of cultural progress, and inventorying the

ing their tenures, when the study of material culture i n strati-

national cultural patrimony i n order to preserve it for posterity.

graphic context became the main goal of excavation. Rosa for­

Defining the unique vocabulary of ancient architecture

warded views of the Palatine excavations to Napoleon i n i n

that might serve as a signpost for the present galvanized the

1861, complete w i t h details of decorations, the clearing of the

group of architects i n the circle of Leon Vaudoyer and Felix

marble pavement of the Domus Flavia, and earth dumps.

Duban, active i n Paris from the 1820s to the middle of the cen­

Abundant visual documentation of the progress of w o r k was

tury. Italy was their architectural laboratory. K n o w n as the

one means by which Rosa, a consummate topographer and

"romantics," Vaudoyer and fellow pensionnaires

patriot of the Roman Republic i n 1849, nourished the emper­

Academy traveled outside of Rome to measure and draw

or's shared passion for Roman history. Rosa's recovery of the

unconventional building types, from prehistoric megaliths,

palaces of the Caesars — the seat of "that great history which,

Etruscan tombs, and the Greek temples of Sicily, to Byzantine

common to the civilization of all nations, serves as the founda­

and medieval churches. They were concerned less w i t h abstract

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at the French


Figure 15.

F R A T E L L I

A M O D I O

(Italian, active 1 8 6 0 S - 1 8 7 0 S ) , Pompei, empreinte humaine

un esclave, fouilles 1863

(Pompeii, human imprint, a slave, 1 8 6 3 excavations), ca. 1 8 7 3 . Albumen silver print, 20.3 x 25.4 cm (8 x 1 0 in.). F r o m "Pompei, detruite a 23 novembre 79 Empire N e r o n decouverte en 1 7 4 8 , " G R I 9 1 . R . 2 . 55


ideals than w i t h historical truth i n the archaeological sense,

first photographically illustrated archaeological publication i n

examining the materials, structural principles, and ornament

Italy, Pompeo Bondini's Delia Via

used on a wide range of civic and sacred building types from

antichi romani

different regions and periods. W i t h the aid of the camera lucida

excavation and cleaning operations sponsored by the Vatican

(an optical shortcut that traditionalists rejected as contrary to

and supervised by Luigi Canina, most of the photographs are

the spirit of artistic intuition), they explored the notion that

frontal shots that expose building phases and fabrics of funer­

architecture was the built expression of customs and beliefs not

ary monuments. I n addition to the tract of the Via Appia from

recorded i n texts: Les monuments sont

la veritable ecriture des

peuples (Monuments are the true w r i t i n g of a people).

47

The dawn of photography coincided w i t h this break

51

Appia e dei sepolcri degli

Undertaken independently following

Porta San Sebastiano to the Tomb of Cecilia Metella — a zone closely associated w i t h early Christian history and the tombs of martyrs—Bondini includes other examples of funerary monu­

curriculum of architectural training.

ments i n the city (Castel Sant'Angelo, the Pyramid of Caius

Members of this group experimented w i t h daguerreotypes and

Cestius) that had been subject to papal intervention i n the past.

promoted the employment of photographers by the Historic

In the course of an innovative restoration project, Canina

Monuments Commission in Paris. The commission launched the

clarified in situ remains, segregated them from private property,

Mission Heliographique i n 1851, a project to survey France's

and recreated the original ambience of Rome's most picturesque

architectural legacy and place i t under the protection of the

road. Bondini's visual itinerary celebrates the inauguration of

from

the established

A programmatic response to the perception that

a protected metaphorical space (later a public archaeologi­

repeatedly echoes i n the literature of ruins and travel—that the

cal park), where the pagan, early Christian, and modern

nation.

48

past was vanishing through neglect and greed — the mission

cities intersected

endeavored to reformulate history around landmarks of memo­

papal stewardship.

ry and thereby to nurture a unified territorial identity. Medieval churches, monasteries, Roman-era

temples

and provincial chateaux

i n documentary

and were reintegrated under

progressive

The sense of architecture as containing what i n Girault

accompany

de Prangey's words is "the still-living history" of a people

views by H i p p o l y t e

inscribed on its walls motivated several ambitious campaigns to

Bayard, Edouard-Denis Baldus, H e n r i Le Secq, Mestral, and

survey monumental heritage i n Italy. Giorgio Sommer and John

Gustave Le Gray. Valuing the neglected patrimony of old

Henry Parker collaborated on a topographical examination of

France over that of distant ancient cultures, their project resem­

Rome, a project i n which a number of Italian photographers

bled enterprises such as Voyages pittoresques et

were engaged. Parker was a specialist i n medieval architecture,

dans Vancienne France

romantiques

49

by Baron T a y l o r . But for reasons both

and, like many of his contemporaries, he had been influenced

philosophical and pragmatic, the camera contributed to the

by John Ruskin's attitudes toward preservation and by the role

demise of this lavish genre of travel literature. W i t h its all-

that photography might play. I n Rome he joined the circle of

encompassing detail, the specificity of the photograph was a

archaeologists

valuable complement to manually drawn plans and so was cru­

Lanciani, w h o broke new ground i n reconstructing the histori­

cial to the demands of research and preservation.

that included Fiorelli, Rosa, and Rodolfo

cal topography of ancient Italy. Parker's comprehensive nine-

In theory and practice, restoration of threatened her­ itage had been the governing directive of Roman archaeologists

volume publication, The Archceology of

Rome

(1874-1877),

described the main categories of remains—walls, aqueducts,

since the years of Napoleonic rule early i n the century. A com­

catacombs, fora — and illustrated them w i t h original photo­

prehensive initiative such as the Mission Heliographique was

graphs taken by several photographers under his direction dur­

not yet a state mandate i n pre-Risorgimento Italy, but a preser­

ing campaigns begun i n 1864. His views are rigorously objec­

vation mentality clearly informed archaeological investigations,

tive studies of architectural history, which enable a rereading of

particularly i n Rome. Restoration is the central theme of the

Roman chronology i n the bricks and mortar of decaying walls.

50

56

(1853).

THE

ART

AND

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OF

ANTIQUITY


Figure 16.

C A R L O

B A L D A S S A R E

S I M E L L I ,

attr. (Italian, active 1 8 5 0 S - 1 8 7 0 S ) , Walls of Rome near Porta

S.

Paolo

and pyramid of Caius Cestius, 1 8 6 4 - 1 8 6 6 . Albumen silver print, 18 x 24 cm (7V8 x 9V2 in.). From the Parker collection of photographs of ancient Roman architecture and sculpture, G R I 8 0 . R . 1 . 57


Figure 1 7 .

G I O R G I O

S O M M E R

(German, 1 8 3 4 - 1 9 1 4 , active Italy), Pompei, Teatro Greco

(Pompeii, the Greek Theater), ;

ca. 1860s. Hand-colored albumen silver print, 20.5 x 25.5 cm (8Vs x 10 in.), G R I 2003.R.I4': * 58


Over three thousand photographs of every aspect of the Roman

53

the function of rooms as lived-in domestic spaces. His visual approach paralleled the advances in excavation methodology

architectural legacy were the result. While they must be considered primarily study prints as opposed to artistic images, the Parker archive records priceless

that Fiorelli inaugurated and functioned as a bridge between archaeological practice and its popular audiences.

information on the state of the remains at a time when intensive

Sommer's studio was particularly distinguished for the

excavation and the politics of nationhood were transforming

colorists who applied watercolors to black-and-white prints,

the urban face of Rome. Majestic examples of Roman design

enhancing the realism of photographic surrogates and allowing

and engineering skill are present, but they are shown from per­

the viewer better to experience the site as i t really was (fig. 17).

spectives that include surrounding structures, streets, and fields

Perhaps the most riveting aspect of the rediscovery of the

(fig. 16). Integral to the life of the city and countryside, ruins

Vesuvian cities was the vision of antiquity in full color: fres­

are contextualized w i t h i n the landscape, not as part of an

coes, mosaics, and painted plaster liberally applied to building

"imaginative geography," but as the repositories of true history

surfaces to an extent not witnessed previously. This feature

and the spirit of place.

dominates the drawings of architects such as Vaudoyer and

52

Documentation of Pompeii was also incorporated i n the

his colleagues, w h o drew inspiration from the vitality of 54

Parker archive and may be attributable to Giorgio Sommer,

polychrome architecture.

who is thought to have been connected to Parker's Rome proj­

moment of discovery, the promised access to lost originals of

The intensity of the pigments at the

ect. Sommer established himself in Naples and conducted an

Greek painting, and the problems of preservation once paintings

extensive photo survey of Pompeii and its remains beginning i n

were exposed to the elements are leitmotifs of contemporary

i 8 6 0 . The site posed challenges very different from Rome's the­

scholarship. Replicating the colors of antiquity w i t h hand-

the

applied tints overcame the deficits of sepia-toned photographs,

Vesuvian cities were difficult to encompass in an overall per­

particularly in the case of wall paintings, which could be repro­

spective. W i t h its profusion of textured walls and successions of

duced in rich beaux-arts hues. This procedure also beautified

rooms and atria preserved only to partial height, the dense

frescoes in the eyes of critics who were disappointed w i t h the

urban plan of Pompeii confounded the goal of producing com­

lack of quality and decorum displayed on Pompeian walls.

prehensible illustrations. Elsewhere, monumental Greek and

Sommer distributed an album dedicated to painting reproduc­

Roman buildings were more advantageously sited and could be

tions, which — like other com' e, com'era photographic publica­

shown in romantic isolation.

tions— blurred the lines between art and photography.

atrically panoramic

settings.

As M i n e r v i n i

implied,

55

Sommer authored standardized views taken from the usual vantage points tailored especially to the Bildungsreise

of

German tourists, an educational tour that took i n art, antiqui­ ties, landscape, and genre scenes of colorful locals and vernac­ ular traditions. This focus expanded his practice into the most successful studio in Naples. Collaboration w i t h the eminent Giuseppe Fiorelli established h i m as a premier architectural photographer and resulted in a comprehensive illustration of all the major parts of the excavations of Pompeii and the museum collections i n Naples. Sommer's views are recognized, above all, for their accuracy and archaeological attention to contextual data. They consciously reject pictorial strategies and show the remains of houses frontally and from close up, demonstrating

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59


P H O T O G E N I C FRAGMENTS

s T H E E F F O R T S O F W i l l i a m Henry Fox Talbot demonstrate, reproduction of the fine arts from an artistic perspective was deemed a central pursuit of professional photographers

from the outset. Photographs of

paintings and sculpture helped to convert connoisseurs into art historians, as we may see by comparing depictions of classical statuary

at several

Sculpture,

key junctures. Specimens

of

Antient

published by the Society of Dilettanti between 1809

and 1835, was a tour de force i n the genre of the illustrated art book.

56

Commissioned by and for aristocratic aficionados of the

antique, its plates present premier marble and bronze statues

Figure 18.

that had come to English private collections in the wake of grand-

JOHN SAMUEL

tour collecting. Engravings retain all the artistry of original pen­

AGAR

(British, ca. 1 7 7 0 ca. 1835), "The

cil drawings i n the subtle shading that contours the figures.

Townley Discobolus,"

Applauded as high points of reproductive art for their delicacy

ca. 1809. Pencil on

and likeness to life, the plates closely resemble the original stat­

paper, 29.5 x 22.4 cm 5

7

( n / 8 x 8 /8 in.). From

ues as we have come to k n o w them through photography.

Society of Dilettanti,

Between the time, around 1809, when John Samuel Agar

drawings and letters,

drew the famous statue from the Townley Collection of an ath­

ca. 1 8 0 6 - c a . 1840,

lete launching a discus (now at the British Museum) and ca.

G R I 840199*.

1862 when the Scottish photographer

Robert

Macpherson

reproduced the Vatican's copy of i t , much thought had been devoted to the question of how best to depict ancient sculpture, as well as to the experience of viewing it. Both the drawing and the photograph show the figure i n oblique perspective, illumi­ nated to emphasize the vigorous contrapposto

of the twisting

body i n the most advantageous profile. Drawings and prints bound i n deluxe folios were destined for an elite readership whose taste and learning were finely cultivated. Townley and his peers were

steeped i n the ancient

literary accounts

that

appraised the Discobolus i n terms of its r h y t h m and propor­ tions. The collector's judgment on the position of the head is echoed i n Agar's perspective (fig. 18). Despite ancient testimony that the head was originally turned to look back toward the dis­ cus, Townley accepted contemporary authority for its forward position, w h i c h outlines the face i n a more appropriately classi­ cal profile.

57


Figure 19. ROBERT MACPHERSON

(Scottish, 1 8 1 1 - 1 8 7 2 ) , The Discobolus of Myron,

ca. 1862.

Albumen silver print, 31.4 x 25 cm (izVs x 9 /s i n . ) . From 7

"Macpherson's Vatican Sculptures" (1863?), GRI 91.R.3.

63


Statues, antique or cast i n plaster, were ideal models for the camera, as Talbot explained i n The Pencil of

Nature.

61

During this seminal period, professional institutions devoted to

Monochromatic yet luminous, they could be easily illuminated

a rigorous study of antiquity were taking shape. The Istituto di

in daylight, posed, and moved to achieve the right effect. The

Corrispondenza Archeologica, launched i n Rome i n 1829,

possibilities offered by three-dimensional artworks attracted

advocated modern analytical approaches to artifacts under the

photographers immediately and made possible a wide range of

mantle of "monumental philology." Foreign schools of archae­

visual encounters. The typical vantage point is that taken i n one

ology such as the French School i n Athens were established

of the earliest photographic images of the Townley Discobolus,

(1846) as platforms for the reconnaissance of sites and monu­

made by Roger Fenton about 1857 as part of a photo documen­

ments. I n various branches of archaeology, Egyptology, and

tation campaign of the British Museum's antiquities collections.

ancient art, university chairs were founded, and teaching was

Fenton's study situates the statue i n the foreground of a long

configured around comprehensive collections of books, casts,

colonnaded gallery, slightly off axis, its classic male physique

and illustrations. Museums were enriched under the auspices of

posed as i f standing at the pinnacle of a procession of archaic

these academic enterprises, by large-scale excavations, and by

Assyrian sculptures. One is tempted to read this juxtaposition

the fruits of wholesale colonialist appropriation. Their collec­

ideologically, i n terms of "progress," particularly since the stat­

tions had to be ordered and catalogued. Although each of these

59

scholarly discourses entailed firsthand scrutiny of forms, func­

Illustrations of Myron's Discobolus, mass produced by photog­

tions, and styles, they were even more dependent upon a shared

raphers such as James Anderson, Giacomo Brogi, and the

body of comparative images. The emphasis on visualizing mate­

Alinari studio, codified Fenton's portrayal i n what w o u l d

rial fact sent archaeological research down new paths, as Alain

ue appears to have been moved to this location temporarily.

become the standardized view: The figure is presented at its

Schnapp has noted, freeing i t "from the primacy of texts over

greatest lateral breadth, w i t h legs and arms shown i n profile

monuments, from the cult of the w o r k of art i n favor of the his­

and torso squarely frontal, to form the most immediately legi­

tory of material culture, from the centrality of universal history

ble contour of an iconic type.

in favor of the diversity of regional and local histories."

62

Robert Macpherson, a painter and art dealer i n Rome,

The growth of photograph collections of ancient sculp­

considered himself no less an artist i n the photography of sculp­

ture, painted vases, and other genres of art and material culture

ture. I n 1863, he published Vatican Sculptures,

which illus­

shaped the conduct of art history and archaeology as we k n o w

60

trates the most famous statues i n their gallery settings. His

it today. For art historians, the expanding "fototeca" at the

w o r k employs carefully controlled illumination to enhance the

Deutsches Archaologisches Institut i n Rome (which emerged

chiaroscuro effect of light and shadow. Photographed against

from the Istituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica), as well as

an architectural backdrop, the Vatican Discobolus is shown

similar visual libraries at other foreign schools and research

slightly more frontally than i n Agar's drawing (fig. 19).

centers, became indispensable t o o l s .

Dramatic backlighting emphasizes the arc of the arms that bal­

were intended to replace collections of prints and drawings i n

ance the pivoting figure at the moment before its pirouette. The

order to systematize sculptures and other works of art as

63

Photographic archives

image paints a physical and psychological portrait of an indi­

objects of classification. Image collections offered the ground­

vidual athlete to create an expectant impression of movement

w o r k for plotting the evolution of art and artifacts over time

held i n check.

64

Giorgio Sommer (Naples), and the Alinari studio (Florence).

58

and for integrating them w i t h i n their architectural and strati-

Macpherson's project was one of several that were

graphical contexts. Photography was an essential precondition

launched around mid-century to create illustrated repertoires of

for the critical and formal analysis of style, dating, and attribu­

museum collections, including campaigns by Roger Fenton i n

t i o n — t h a t is, for making sense of the great body of finds from

the British Museum, Adolphe Braun (Vatican and Louvre),

all parts of the ancient w o r l d . Photographs that soon illustrat-

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ed books and filled archives were more real, less open to w h i m

a tool of excavation and study, it reoriented archaeology from

or artistic fancy than drawings and engravings that for earlier

texts t o the material w o r l d of objects. Yet, as soon became evi­ dent, the camera registered more than simply the physical

generations had constituted the "paper museum." As the instance of the Discobolus shows, different pho­

likeness of its subjects. Photography emerged as a bridge

tographers depicted features of sculpture i n ways that empha­

between earlier illustrative techniques, such as drawing, and

sized them as aesthetic expressions, as iconographical types,

the modern practices

of observation. Like the study of

and as the vehicles of moral values, latent or explicit. The great

Mediterranean antiquity itself, photography commingled docu­

advantage of the camera was its ability to view statues from dif­

mentary procedure and aesthetic experience. The outcome was

ferent perspectives that mutually reinforce each of these modes

a seductively powerful visual medium, which, together w i t h its

of reception. To be sure, multilateral imaging also posed a dis­

very pervasiveness, extended the reach of antiquity as a moral

advantage, i n that flat representations of subjects i n the round

and scientific authority.

could create very different impressions depending on angle and lighting. Filtered through the eyes of photographers,

audience

Gerhard's "one" turned out to be many things to many people. By materializing history as heritage, archaeological

preconceptions, sociopolitical conditions, and the limitations of

photography was instrumental i n formulating conceptions of

the medium itself, photographic representations could misrep­

cultural identity and nationhood. Photogenic fragments from

resent. H o w the imagery of antiquity was assembled, selective­

classical and biblical lands painted a picture of the past that col­

ly framed, and utilized i n reconstructing the past can thus be

ored perceptions of ancient civilizations and their modern heirs

charted along tracks that both parallel and sharply diverge from

in India, East Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Central to the

the institutional goals of archaeology as a positivist science.

issue of visualizing antiquity is not simply the fact that the cam­

Eduard Gerhard, a founder of the Istituto d i Corri-

era offered a truthful way to record reality and the changes

spondenza Archeologica i n Rome, envisioned the outcome

wrought by time — important as this is — but also that its

of the visual reorganization of a n t i q u i t y i n his d i c t u m

alluring realism succeeded i n validating ideas that had such far-

Monumentorum artis

reaching consequences for society at large.

millia vidit, unum vidit:

quis

unum vidit,

nullum

vidit,

quis

He w h o sees one monument of art, sees

none, he w h o sees thousands, sees one.

64

Today, i t is hard to

imagine the synthetic study of antiquity w i t h o u t the aid of

#

the photograph. Instrumentalized vision of the k i n d that i t promised was fundamental to the spirit of empirical inquiry. As

THE

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65


IN PERFECT ORDER ANTIQUITY IN THE DAGUERREOTYPES OF JOSEPH-

PHILBERT GIRAULT DE PRANGEY n August 19, 1839, members of the Academie des sciences and of the Academie

O

des Beaux-Arts listened attentively as the scientist Francois Arago revealed details of Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre's extraordinary new invention. Three hours before the meeting even began, a crowd had gathered outside the Institut de France in Paris, eager to learn more about how Daguerre was creating his aston­ 1

ishing images. Members of the academies and the public alike had for months anticipated and speculated about these forthcoming revelations. Some had actual­

ly seen original examples of the inventor's work, while others knew only what they had read in newspapers and journals. Now, they would learn the particulars behind a tantalizing announcement made eight months earlier, in January of that year. Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey may have been present to hear Arago's explanations that day. He was a talented artist who welcomed technical innovations and could well have made a point of being in Paris to attend an event of this importance. Perhaps it was there and then that he became inspired to embark upon his own daguerreotype adventures. Paris was one of the first cities he photographed, making fine large views in 1841. Then, between 1842 and 1845, he traveled thousands of miles and produced hundreds of architectural daguerreo­ types, including the earliest extant photographs from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, and Palestine. This enormous contribution exceeds that of any other scenic daguerreotypist —

66

Lindsey S. Stewart


7

and possibly even of most mid-nineteenth-century photogra­

exotic birds. Surviving evidence suggests that he approached

phers. I n terms of both the quantity and quality of surviving

everything he studied w i t h a passionate, even obsessive, rigor

output from the years before 1845, perhaps only the works of

and a profound desire to research and protect the artistic

W i l l i a m Henry Fox Talbot and the partnership of H i l l and

endeavors of previous generations and of cultures distinctly

Adamson compare. Yet despite being one of the foremost pho­

different from his o w n .

tographers of this early period, the man remains something of an enigma.

In 1836 he became a founding member of the Com­ mission archeologique de Langres, later renamed the Societe historique et archeologique de Langres. Under his influence,

Allow me, then, to introduce Joseph-Philibert GIRAULT PRANGEY,

the

one of the organization's first successes was the establishment i n

DE

son of Claude-Joseph ill Girault et de Barbe de

1838 of a museum of antiquities i n the Gothic chapel of Saint

Pietrequin de Prangey, born at Langres, 2 1 October 1 8 0 4 ,

Didier, to which the valuable treasures of the small t o w n were

died at the villa of Courcelles, 7 December, 1 8 9 2 , and the last

moved. A lithograph of the interior of Saint Didier made from

of the line.

a Girault de Prangey drawing was reproduced i n the first vol­

1

ume of the Memoires de la Societe historique et archeologique M o r e than forty years after Girault de Prangey died, the

(fig. i ) .

8

Count de Simony thus succinctly "introduced" h i m — a bright,

U n t i l recently, Girault de Prangey was recognized main­

bold artist whose images of ancient Mediterranean sites are the

ly for his fine measured drawings and historical account of the

subject of this essay. F r o m the same account we learn that his

Islamic architecture of southern Spain; i t remains a standard

contemporaries rarely mentioned h i m w i t h o u t characterizing

reference w o r k . N o w , however, his rightful position as an early

9

h i m as "eccentric." A descendant of the Pietrequin family,

master of photography has come to light. As the scion of a

among the oldest and most distinguished i n the region, he was

wealthy family, he was able to indulge his varied interests,

3

apparently without having to earn a living. The earliest date to

an intellectual and, apparently, a highly private individual.

One "eminent personality" cited by Count de Simony acknowl­

appear on any of his surviving daguerreotypes is 1841, proba­

edged that although Girault de Prangey was a well-educated

bly the year he began experimenting seriously w i t h Daguerre's

and talented draftsman w h o produced remarkable lithographs,

invention. The 1841 daguerreotypes tend to be of subjects close

4

he was also surly, sarcastic, and unsociable. Perhaps this was

to home, such as his villa and the surrounding landscape, or i n

the artist's obituarist, Henry Brocard, w h o described a similar

nearby or relatively accessible towns and cities, such as Langres,

personality but nonetheless recognized h i m as a man of taste

Troyes, Chaumont, and, as noted, Paris.

and a wise critic w h o was often lively.

5

In 1842 Girault de Prangey embarked on an extended

Educated i n the small northeastern French t o w n of Langres and i n Paris, he earned his Dipldme de

Mediterranean tour that lasted until early 1845

a

n

d included

Bachelier es

the great sites of classical, Egyptian, and Islamic architecture,

Lettres (bachelor of arts) i n 1826 and Dipldme de Bachelier en

straddling the Mediterranean from Marseille to the Levant and

Droit

the Nile as far as the First Cataract. Over this period he pro­

(bachelor of law) t w o years later.

6

These academic

accomplishments were limited compared w i t h his avid interest

duced a body of w o r k comprising between eight hundred and

i n , and knowledge of, archaeology, antiquities, Islamic arts and

a thousand daguerreotypes, a feat now gaining recognition

architecture, photography, and horticulture. For example,

as one of the great artistic undertakings of the earliest days

when he remodeled his villa near Langres i n the 1850s, he

of photography.

incorporated Islamic elements i n the design and tamed a tract of w i l d land, transforming i t into an elaborately terraced gar­ den w i t h glasshouses where he cultivated rare plants and kept

68

de Langres

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10


Figure i . The interior of the antiquities museum in Langres. Lithograph, 25.1 x 18.4 cm 7

(9 /8 x 7V4 in.) from a drawing by JosephPhilibert Girault de Prangey. From Memoires de

la

Societe bistorique et arcbeologique de Langres

(Langres,

1850), p i . 1.

69


Figure 2. B A R O N

A R M A N D

P I E R R E

S E G U I E R

(French, 1 8 0 3 - 1 8 7 6 ) , Still Life w i t h Plaster Casts, 1 8 3 9 - 1 8 4 2 . Daguerreotype, 21.6 x 16.2 c m (8V2 x 6Vs in.). J P G M

70

2OO2.4I.


de

Jules Ziegler, w h o was to become a painter and cerami-

Prangey was thirty-five and had completed a tour of Andalusia

cist, was an exact contemporary of Girault de Prangey i n

in Spain, among the poorest and least developed areas i n

Langres. A n early enthusiast of photography, he was among the

Europe. He had closely scrutinized surviving examples of

founding members of the French Societe heliographique and a

M o o r i s h architecture there and had produced informative

friend of Hippolyte Bayard.

drawings, including plans, sections, elevations, and details. To

daguerreotypes, including artists' studies of the male nude.

these he added interiors and views situating the architecture

Bayard was one of the earliest to experiment w i t h photography,

The year photography was introduced, Girault

16

Ziegler reportedly made many 17

w i t h i n its urban context or against its natural landscape, as well

inventing a direct-positive process on paper that he exhibited i n

as views of animals and people engaged i n everyday activities.

June 1 8 3 9 .

18

I n the absence of other evidence, i t seems plausi­

When these drawings were published as lithographs, between

ble that Ziegler, and possibly Bayard, may have provided

1836 and 1839, Girault de Prangey expressed a preference i n

Girault de Prangey w i t h his initial instruction in photographic

his introduction for a particular approach to the subject.

technique.

"However, to its modern palaces, the modern beauties of

During the early days of the medium, exposure times

Granada," he wrote, "we prefer its wooden houses w i t h their

were so slow that the most popular subjects for photographers

patios shaded by bushes and vines, its embroidery, its delicate

were architecture and still life (fig. 2). I n 1839 Daguerre himself

adornments and, above all, its monuments, which bear the

made architectural views i n Paris as well as studies of sculpture

imprint of the genius of a nation which left nowhere as here

and casts and a still-life image of fossils and shells. Others, such

such brilliant traces of its elevated civilisation."

11

as Frangois-Alphonse Fortier and Baron A r m a n d Pierre

He was thinking about embarking on an extensive

Seguier, also produced large still-life daguerreotypes in the first

"grand tour" when, during the first week of 1839, Frangois

years of the i n v e n t i o n . Girault de Prangey's 1841 daguerreo­

Arago made the initial announcement of Daguerre's invention

types of Paris architecture remain among the earliest made of a

12

to the Academie des sciences. As mentioned, it is not certain how Girault de Prangey first learned about the daguerreotype process. He may even have read the Gazette de France

19

city that w o u l d be daguerreotyped more than any other.

20

Alphonse G i r o u x was the manufacturer first approved

the day

by Daguerre for making the necessary apparatus, w i t h lenses to

before Arago's announcement and seen the following sentence:

be supplied by the optical-instrument makers Vincent and

"For a few hundred francs travellers may perhaps soon be able

Charles Chevalier. When Arago revealed details of the inven­

to procure M . Daguerre's apparatus, and bring back views of

tion to the public i n August 1839, G i r o u x sold his entire stock

the finest monuments and of the most delightful scenery of the

of the apparatus immediately. The first daguerreotype outfits,

whole w o r l d . "

21

designed to take "whole-plate" images (16 x 22 cm, or, 6V2 x

1 3

News traveled fast after Arago's more detailed presenta­

8V2 in.), were heavy, bulky, and expensive. Simple lenses had

tion at the Institut de France that August, and exponents of the

not yet been modified specifically for photography, and initial­

14

ly, efforts were concentrated on shortening exposure times,

Manuals, much i n demand, were printed and reprinted i n many

mainly to facilitate daguerreotype portraiture. I n 1840 Joseph

languages before the year was out. However, personal tutoring

Petzval of Vienna formed a compound lens w i t h four glass ele­

new art were soon offering demonstrations and lessons.

by someone w h o had mastered the process was more helpful.

ments and a larger aperture, an invention that greatly increased

Despite Arago's claim on behalf of Daguerre that it was quite

the amount of light transmitted and, therefore, sped up expo­

simple to make successful daguerreotypes, this proved i n prac­

sures. A reduction of the plate size meant that the lens could

tice to be false; many keen experimenters were disappointed w i t h their poor results.

15

also be smaller; the whole apparatus, lighter and more com­ pact; and the exposures shorter. Chevalier worked on improv­ ing lenses to this effect, while others, such as Baron Seguier, an

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71


amateur, adapted Daguerre's original designs to produce lighter

eras. Girault de Prangey had to adapt the available equipment.

and more portable equipment. Seguier is also credited w i t h

Two of his panoramas laid side by side along their long edges

inventing, i n late 1839, the photographic tripod, an essential

are the same size as the photographer's whole plate, indicating

device for photographers w o r k i n g i n the field, where exposures

that he cut the plates to suit his requirements.

could take several minutes.

22

This unortho­

dox approach indicates h o w the photographer tailored his

From his earliest k n o w n daguerreotypes, i t is obvious

equipment to achieve specific effects. Equally inventive was his

that Girault de Prangey worked w i t h a custom-made camera,

use of the panorama i n a vertical orientation i n order to empha­

which was even larger than the n o r m ; i t allowed a m a x i m u m

size details such as the minarets on mosques i n Cairo.

plate size of about 19 x 24 cm (7V2 x 9V2 i n . ) .

23

This unusually

A detail view of the so-called Temple of Vesta (today

generous format, as well as the smaller formats he created by

called simply "the circular temple") i n Rome is emblematic of

subdividing his large plates, is striking when compared w i t h

Girault de Prangey's

other French outdoor scenes produced around the same time.

columned circular structure on the banks of the Tiber had long

art (fig. 3). This petite, Corinthian-

It was difficult enough to haul a bulky daguerreotype

been recognized as a gem of Roman antiquity, despite the fact

camera and its associated paraphernalia onto the streets of Paris

that i t was missing such significant components as an entabla­

from one's studio or apartment to photograph the Seine. I t was

ture and roof. Andrea Palladio described and illustrated the

considerably more arduous to embark on a lengthy overseas

temple i n his J quattro libri delVarchitettura

(The four books

journey w i t h quantities of personal luggage and unwieldy draw­

of architecture), the immensely influential sourcebook

ing and photographic equipment. Remarkably, Girault de

Palladianism that was published i n 1570; and i n the eighteenth

Prangey was not the only early daguerreotypist to undertake

century, Giovanni Battista Piranesi engraved an image of i t . I n

24

such a project. A m o n g those stalwart few w h o returned from

for

contrast to Palladio's refined architectural drawings, Piranesi

far-off locales w i t h daguerreotype treasures to show was Jules

shows the building well w o r n and i n use, w i t h a church bell on

Itier, w h o i n 1844 traveled as far as China. N o other daguerreo­

the roof and the paraphernalia of everyday life cluttering the

typist, however, completed a mission as ambitious as that of

foreground. Girault de Prangey's daguerreotype reveals, for the

Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey.

first time i n detail and w i t h the benefit of sunshine and chem­

Armed w i t h an abundance of equipment and metal plates, Girault de Prangey set sail from Marseille, where he

istry, h o w the Corinthian capitals atop the temple's columns really looked i n 1842.

made a small number of daguerreotypes. U p o n reaching Italy,

Although we lack an account by Girault de Prangey of

he began w o r k i n g i n earnest. I n an A p r i l 1843 letter to Desire-

his photographic modus operandi, i t is obvious that here he rev­

Raoul Rochette, secretary of the Academie des Beaux-Arts, he

eled i n the sheer architectural beauty of the graceful columns

describes having w o r k e d sans relache (without respite) for three

and the smooth curves repeated i n the wall, the roofline, and

months i n Rome before moving on to Athens.

25

A n analysis of

even the carving of the capitals. Like Palladio and Piranesi

the daguerreotypes he produced i n Rome reveals that the w o r k

before h i m , the photographer has edited his view to suit his

he did at the beginning of his travels was equal i n both techni­

o w n vision. The hurly-burly of Piranesi's Rome has vanished.

cal and aesthetic expertise to all that followed.

Likewise absent are the interpretive improvements of Palladio's

From his inventory numbers it is evident that Girault de

renderings, i n which the entablature and roof are restored. The

Prangey produced some twenty-seven images i n a panoramic

clarity of this photographic image depends as much on what the

n

7

format (approximately 9.5 x 24 cm; 3 / i 6 x 9 /i6 in.) while i n

72

26

Frenchman has chosen to omit — most pointedly, the building's

Rome, including views made outside the c i t y — a t T i v o l i and

urban surroundings — as on what he has included. I n aiming

Bracciano. Panoramic photography was popular w i t h later

his lens slightly upward, he has deleted extraneous background

photographers, w h o had the benefit of specially designed cam­

detail and revealed the generous curve of the roofline. The shal-

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Figure 3.

J O S E P H - P H I L I B E R T G I R A U L T D E P R A N G E Y (French, 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) , Rome. Temple de Vesta 1

(Rome, Temple of Vesta), 1842. Daguerreotype, 9.4 x 24 cm (3 Vie x 9^16 in.), J P G M 2003.82.1. 73


low, conical tiled roof (a post-Classical addition) is just visible,

commands attention, but the half-buried arches i n the center-

protecting the elongated, ribbed column shafts and their elabo­

foreground direct attention back to the well-preserved tower.

rate Corinthian capitals. Although the roof confirms the circu­

In another picture from this group, the emphasis is

lar plan of the building, it remains a minimal intervention

again on the tower's surroundings, including a conspicuous tree

rather than a dominant feature.

(fig. 5). The smaller daguerreotype (see fig. 4) has the classic

Sunlight creates the image, but shadow reveals the form. Contemporary critics complained of a lack of color i n

sures of the mid-nineteenth century — a sense of calm accentu­

daguerreotypes, but certain colors could appear i n the plate; for

ated by the harmonious arrangement of the main elements i n

example, a slight overexposure of the sky, easily accomplished

the center and the gradual softening of focus away from the

(or not easily avoided) when seeking detail i n other areas, could

subject. I n the larger study (see fig. 5), however, the unusual

produce the pale-blue sky tone seen i n this picture.

framing of the image creates a sense of tension. The ostensible

Leaving Rome, Girault de Prangey sailed on to Greece,

subject appears only minimally on the right, led by a jagged

stopping briefly on the Aegean island of Syr a (Syros), where he

patch of shade, and the edges dominate i n a way that seems

made at least three daguerreotypes. I n Athens he took advan­

more typical of a modern snapshot.

tage of the renowned clear light and created approximately sev­

To capture the most celebrated aspect of the monument,

enty daguerreotypes, more than half of which were i n his

Girault de Prangey used the same format to create another of

largest plate size. His subjects included not only the ruins of the

his innovative close-up details, again laterally reversed (fig. 6).

Acropolis and other ancient monuments but also Byzantine

The continuous frieze depicts the eight winds, one on each face

churches, cathedrals, and the monastery at D a p h n e .

27

of the octagonal tower. Here we see the remains of the east

Although the Tower of the Winds (properly k n o w n as

w i n d , Apeliotes, on the left, holding a harvest of fruit, grain,

the H o r o l o g i o n of Andronikos Kyrrhestes) is not one of the

and honey, w i t h Euros, the southeast w i n d , on the right. Girault

grandest ancient Greek buildings, i t is certainly one of the most

de Prangey angled his lens slightly upward to pick out the

idiosyncratic and influential (fig. 4). When James Stuart and

faceted outline of the building's plan, the relative depths of the

Nicholas Revett compiled the first volume of The Antiquities of

moldings and reliefs, and the profile of the cornice. The

Athens,

daguerreotype

published i n 1762, they devoted nineteen plates and

makes a clear

statement,

suggesting

the

thirteen pages of text to this distinctive structure. Girault de

endurance of the building itself while also hinting, through its

Prangey made several daguerreotypes of the tower, i n different

depiction of cracks and wear, at its fragility.

sizes. For the present example, he used his smallest plate size.

By the time he visited Athens in 1842, the grand

The result is a surprisingly expansive view, establishing the

Classical temples had long since crumbled, and generations of

tower i n its urban context, w i t h the city spreading out toward

visitors, including L o r d Elgin, had already left w i t h sizable

the distant mountains.

architectural souvenirs. Nonetheless, it is clear that Girault de

Photographs made i n the mid-1850s of the same subject

Prangey, like so many visitors of his time, found the ruins awe-

show little change. By the late 1870s, however, the area near the

inspiring. To do these monuments justice, he deployed the full

Tower of the Winds had been further excavated to reveal the full height of the monument on its stepped base.

28

Girault de

dimensions of his largest daguerreotype plates more often than in any other city.

Prangey was fascinated by trees. He photographed examples of

The Acropolis had a profound impact on Girault de

mature deciduous species on his estate i n France, and during his

Prangey, w h o produced more than twenty daguerreotypes of

travels he focused on cypresses i n Italy, date palms i n Egypt,

the site. He also made t w o views of i t w i t h Athens i n the fore­

29

ground; he d i d not t r i m this plate after completing the process,

I n his view of the Tower of the Winds, the dark, isolated palm

and these t w o panoramas survive together, confirming that he

plane trees i n Turkey, and, of course, the cedars of L e b a n o n .

74

stillness and clarity most often associated w i t h the long expo­

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Figure 4.

J O S E P H - P H I L I B E R T G I R A U L T

D E

P R A N G E Y

(French, 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) , 50. Athenes, Tour

(Athens, Tower of the Winds), 1842. Daguerreotype, 7.7 x 9 cm ($Vn x

3^32 in.).

des Vents

JPGIM

2003.82.4. 75


Figure 5.

J O S E P H - P H I L I B E R T

G I R A U L T

D E

P R A N G E Y

(French, 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) , 57. Athenes. Tour

(Athens, Tower of the Winds), 1842. Daguerreotype, 12 x 18.8 cm {^A x yVs in.), Collection of Daniel Wolf.

des Vents J P G M

L.2004.77.5


Figure 6.

J O S E P H - P H I L I B E R T G I R A U L T D E P R A N G E Y (French, 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) , 43. Athenes. Tour

des Vents

(Athens, Tower of the Winds), 1842. Daguerreotype, 11.3 x 18.1 cm (4^16 x jV% in.), J P G M 2004.79.2. 77


78


masked part of the whole plate while making each exposure so

ken column on the wall behind draws our attention away from

His success

the facade and through the exposed internal spaces of the build­

at the Acropolis provides us w i t h the earliest extant photo­

ing. The celebrated Caryatid Portico plays a minor role, barely

graphs of that ancient citadel. They are also among the most

visible on the far right.

he could render daguerreotypes i n other formats.

30

impressive, including magnificent large daguerreotypes of the Parthenon, the Propylaia, and the Erechtheion.

31

In addition to these imposing views of the major monu­ ments, Girault de Prangey produced photographs of smaller

In his bold view of the northeast corner of the Parthenon

sculptures and architectural details. The first of these is com­

one can see the effects of years of neglect and damage, but the

posed of several architectural fragments supporting the remains

temple ruins tower above the rubble (fig. 7). Girault de Prangey

of a relief, thought to represent the goddess of victory from

chose a viewpoint so close to his subject that the marble columns

the Temple of Athena N i k e (fig. 10; cf. fig. 18, p . 189). The

fill the frame, w i t h the corner detail emphasized right in the cen­

smaller format suits the more intimate scale of the w o r k , and

ter of the picture. The slightly low viewpoint accentuates the

the proportions reflect those of the arrangement. The photog­

height of the structure and adds to the overall sense of its iconic

rapher has made this daguerreotype i n strong sunlight, so that

power. A t the bottom, to the left of the corner pillar, is what

the subtle curves of the figure and the clearly defined folds of

Figure 7.

appears to be a small camera on a tripod. This suggests that the

drapery emerge from a deep, velvety shade.

JOSEPH-PHILIBERT

photographer traveled w i t h at least two cameras, one of which

G l R A U L T DE PRANGEY

was intended for use w i t h his smaller daguerreotype plates.

The second photograph is curiously enigmatic (fig. 11). Unusual by any standard, i t shows the arched entrance t o

(French,

The Propylaia was the monumental entrance to the

1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) , 112.

the medieval cistern located east-southeast of the Erechtheion

Acropolis, and like the Parthenon, i t was t o become a favorite

and north of the Parthenon — not a subject one w o u l d have

subject for photographers. Like many w h o came after h i m ,

expected to be of interest to Girault de Prangey. However, leg­

Girault de Prangey chose to show this gateway from the inside,

end has i t that during his contest w i t h Athena for possession

looking out toward the distant landscape (fig. 8). Later photo­

of the Acropolis, Poseidon struck a rock here w i t h his trident,

of the Parthenon),

graphs illustrate that excavations flattened the debris that fills

creating a sacred salt-water spring. Perhaps i t was this m y t h

1842. Daguerreotype

the foreground in this view, eventually revealing the full height

that appealed, or perhaps i t was simply the sight of an arch

18.8 x 24 cm

of the columns. To the right of the image, which is laterally

among the Greek ruins that aroused the Frenchman's curiosity.

reversed, is the so-called Frankish Tower, which was erected i n

Whatever the reason, he has treated this modest architectural

the fifteenth century and demolished i n 1875. M a n y photo­

detail w i t h the same attention he gives t o more commanding

graphs of the Propylaia made between the 1850s and the year

structures, using a l o w viewpoint and careful lighting to isolate

the

the subject from its surroundings and to create an image that is

Athenes. 1842.

I

Parthenon. Fag[ade]. et I C[olonnade]. Nord (Athens, Facade and N o r t h Colonnade

{yVs x

9^6

JPGM

2OO3.82.2.

in.).

tower was razed

are dominated

by this

awkward

fortification structure. Girault de Prangey has here managed to minimize the tower, using its dark form t o help lead our eyes toward the sunlit columns of his subject.

at once both clear and mysterious. By the time Girault de Prangey arrived at Baalbek i n Syria (today, Lebanon) i n late 1843,

n

e

n

a

d made more than

In his large view of the Erechtheion, Girault de Prangey

four hundred daguerreotypes. Here he added about one hun­

shows the unusually complex form of the temple, which was

dred new photographs t o his inventory, the most he made i n

built over several sacred sites and levels on the Acropolis (fig. 9).

any single location — not surprising, given the enormity of this

The daguerreotype demonstrates the slender grace of the tem­

predominantly Roman site. I t was the combination of this

ple's Ionic columns, this i n comparison w i t h the Doric columns

ambitious scale w i t h flamboyant architectural decoration that

featured i n his studies of the Parthenon and the Propylaia. He

defined Baalbek. I n the mid-nineteenth century, the city, also

has selected as his central feature the west facade, the side that

k n o w n as Heliopolis (City of the Sun), had yet t o be the focus

had sustained the least damage over the centuries. Yet the bro­

of an archaeological investigation; it was not until 1898 that a

IN

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79


Figure

8.

J O S E P H - P H I L I B E R T

de ITnterieur (7 /8 3

80

G I R A U L T

D E

P R A N G E Y

(French, 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) , 9 1 . Athenes. 1842.

Propylees. Pris

(Athens, V i e w f r o m the interior of the Propylaia), 1 8 4 2 . Daguerreotype, 1 8 . 8 x 2 4 cm

x yVu in.),

j P G M

L.2004.77.6.

Collection of Daniel Wolf.


Figure 9.

J O S E P H - P H I L I B E R T G I R A U L T D E P R A N G E Y (French, 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) , 123. Athenes, 1842. de Min.[erve] Pol.[iade]

Fac[ade].

0.[uest]

T.[emple]

(Athens, West Facade of the Erechtheion), 1842.

Daguerreotype, 18.9 x 24 cm (7^16 x 9 ^ 6 in.). J P G M 2003.135. 81


Figure 1 0 . J O S E P H - P H I L I B E R T G I R A U L T

D E

P R A N G E Y

(French, 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) ,

50. Athenes, T.[emple] Vict.foire] aptere (Athens, Sculpture from the Temple of Wingless Victory, or Athena Nike), 1 8 4 2 . Daguerreotype, 18.8

x

12.2

(yVs x 4 / i 6 1 3

J P G M

82

cm in.).

2003.82.3.


Figure n .

J O S E P H - P H I L I B E R T G I R A U L T D E P R A N G E Y (French, 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) , 54. Atbenes. T.[emple] Poliade (ier plans)

de Min.[erve]

(Athens, Cistern opening at the foot of the Erechtheion, Acropolis), 1842.

Daguerreotype, 12.2 x 18.8 cm (4 /i6 x yYs in.). J P G M 2003.136. 13

83


Figure 12 A. JOSEPH-PHILIBERT GlRAULT D E P R A N G E Y

(French, 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) , 220. Baalbec. Petit temple. Ext.[erieur], Entablement

(Baalbek,

Entablature f r o m the exterior of the Temple of Bacchus), 1 8 4 3 - 1 8 4 4 . Daguerreotype, 18.8 x 12.2 c m 3

(7 Ax

4 /4 3

in.),

JPG M

L . 2 0 0 4 . 4 2 . 7 . Collection of Daniel Wolf.

Figure I2 B . JOSEPH-PHILIBERT

GlRAULT D E PRANGE Y

(French, 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) , 205). Baalbec. Pet.[it] temple. Ext.[erieur], frize [sic] Ent.[ablement] (Baalbek, Broken Entablature f r o m the Exterior of the Temple of Bacchus), 1 8 4 3 - 1 8 4 4 . Daguerreotype, 9.4 x 12 c m ( 3 / i 6 x 4V4 n

in.), J P G

M

L.2004.77.10. Collection of Daniel Wolf.

84


German expedition began excavating the t w o very large Roman

latter to hint at the pattern of alternating arched and triangulat­

temples of Jupiter and Bacchus.

ed

Girault de Prangey studied the remains of each of these temples i n detail as well as the smaller, circular Temple of

pediments above the niches. Here the magnificent stone

blocks thrust upward and inward w i t h an exuberance that seems barely contained w i t h i n the frame.

Venus. Using every daguerreotype-plate format available to

The smaller daguerreotype (see fig. 1 2 B ) is one of several

him, he spent five months or so assembling a visual inventory of

that reveal fragments — in this case, an isolated chunk from the

Baalbek, from expansive views of the distant temples to close-

exterior entablature of the Temple of Bacchus. The finely carved

ups of the most elaborate Roman architectural features to be

detail lies upside down on the ground, where it has fallen amid

found (figs. I 2 A - I 2 B ) .

3 2

For the details of the circular temple

other rubble. Girault de Prangey chose the time of day for his

(see fig. i , p.5) and of the Temple of Bacchus (see figs. 1 2 A - 1 2 B )

exposure carefully, when the sun cast enough shadow to empha­

he switched between the full size of his largest daguerreotype

size the deeper carving as well as the shallow patterns. He also

plate and the second-smallest size. I n the first he captures the

used the limited plane of focus of his lens to advantage, so

majestic scale of the massive carved-stone entablature and cir­

that only the entablature itself is in focus, leaving the back­

cular wall of the temple interior, including just enough of the

ground blurred.

IN

PERFECT

ORDER

85


Figure 13.

86

J O S E P H - P H I L I B E R T G I R A U L T D E P R A N G E Y (French, 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) , 206. Baalbec. G.[ran]de Com Carrie G.[ran]de

cotes

12.2 x 18.8

( 4 / i 6 x yVs

cm

1 3

(Baalbek, Great square court, Temple of Jupiter), 1 8 4 3 - 1 8 4 4 . in.),

JPGM

2003.137.

Daguerreotype,


Girault de Prangey made at

Nearly all these daguerreotypes survived i n the photog­

Baalbek depicts one of the most complete remains from the

rapher's archive, kept in the original wooden boxes and rarely

massive great court of the Temple of Jupiter, among the largest

handled. Girault de Prangey had mastered a delicate and chal­

Roman temples ever built (fig. 13). One entered this main court,

lenging process, which for best results required a carefully con­

which measured more than 100 x 100 m (328 x 328 feet),

trolled chemistry and closely monitored environment.

through the propylaia and hexagonal forecourt. O n each side

achieved success on a grand scale while constantly traveling,

were two semicircular exedra, flanked by rectangular recesses

often to inaccessible and inhospitable locations, under circum­

A third daguerreotype

He

and screened from the main space by alternating red and gray

stances that were far from ideal. He used the daguerreotype

granite columns. The photographer depicts the form and deco­

w i t h a sense of purpose that apparently was unrivaled at the

ration of the surviving exedra in a manner that evokes an eleva­

time. I f his primary goal had indeed been to collate a compara­

tion in an architectural drawing. Only a single stone on the

tive history of Islamic architecture, there seems no doubt that

upper level and the clutter of fallen masonry i n the foreground

he not only succeeded i n reaching it but also ranged far beyond,

break this symmetry. M o r e than the finely cut ashlar of the wall,

incorporating a detailed survey of classical architecture for

these huge stones evoke the scale of the structure. Later photo­

additional comparison. Once home, he stored the daguerreo­

graphs show the extent of excavations, w i t h the rubble removed

types, reviewing the contents of the boxes at least twice over the

and the ground level lowered to expose the full dimensions of

years and annotating them "Exact en 1865" and "Exact en 1880." One assumes he was, at the very least, satisfied w i t h the

the wall. After traveling for more than t w o years in Italy, Greece, Asia M i n o r , Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, Girault de Prangey

results. I n his A p r i l 1843 letter to Desire Raoul-Rochette, he had written:

returned to France in early 1845. Henry Brocard summed up the photographer's achievements during his architectural pil­

You will see with pleasure, Sir, the use I have made of the

grimage:

practical instrument invented by Daguerre; in a variety of circumstances I have captured, often with complete success,

Armed with a camera lucida, he made numerous drawings,

several bas-reliefs and statues from the Acropolis, many

remarkable both for their execution and accuracy, and com-

fragments and some complete monuments from Athens and

pleted the series using the daguerreotype, an entirely new

Rome, and my collection, without including my plans and

invention, at the time very rudimentary and, above all,

drawings, is already strong. Today it is with real pleasure

difficult. The quantity of daguerreotype plates that he

that I find myself so close to monuments that it would be

brought back was considerable. They filled immense trunks

so important to possess with total accuracy?

and were classified in perfect order?

4

3

IN

PERFECT

ORDER

87


In his introduction to Monuments arabes

Brocard, i n his obituary of the photographer, indicated

d'Egypte, de

that Girault de Prangey had intended to publish his daguerreo­

Syrie, et d'Asie Mineure,

types, indeed that he had "attempted the publication of impor­

west corner of the present Mosque of A m r , p i . 5, no. 9 and the

tant works, but did not have the satisfaction of seeing them

fragments nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8 on the same plate, are traced

35

completed."

he wrote: "These views of the north­

Yet he went on to note that "Girault de Prangey

over the photographic images obtained on the spot, by means

went back to settle d o w n i n Langres, where he occupied himself

of the wonderful instrument invented by Daguerre; the skillful

w i t h the study of archaeology and w i t h the publication of his

artist w h o has reproduced these images by lithography has

works on Arab art. The latter demanded considerable outlay

copied them w i t h scrupulous accuracy" (fig. 14). Although this

and he had to give i t up and w i t h d r a w to his Leuchey villa, near

seems to be the only reference to any of the plates being based

the spring at Douy, i n the midst of rocks and u n d e r g r o w t h . "

36

The major w o r k Girault de Prangey initiated after he came back was a series of lithographs, Monuments arabes gypte, de Syrie, et d'Asie Mineure dessines a 184j

d'E-

directly on Girault de Prangey's daguerreotypes, a comparison of plates from both publications w i t h the surviving daguerreo­ types suggests that at least a handful of other examples were

et mesures de 1842

very close copies from the photographs.

(Arab monuments of Egypt, Syria, and Asia M i n o r

39

Unlike the negative/positive process invented i n England

drawn and measured from 1842 to 1845). Published i n 1846, i t

by W i l l i a m Henry Fox Talbot, the daguerreotype did not lend

was typeset by Firmin D i d o t Freres and printed by Lemercier,

itself to multiple reproductions. Each daguerreotype was a

both Parisian firms. According to advertisements that appeared

unique object — a highly reflective, silver-coated copper plate

in early fascicles, the series was intended to comprise twenty or

w i t h a finely detailed image on the silver surface. I n the early

thirty parts w i t h four plates per part; each part w o u l d cost

1840s they were reproduced by laboriously hand-copying the

sixteen francs and include historical and descriptive text to

images onto a traditional print base, which was then inked to

accompany the plates, but evidently, only six parts were ever

make an engraving or a lithograph. This was the method used

published.

37

Given the expenses he must already have incurred,

for plates i n the earliest book containing illustrations based on Noel-Marie-Paymal Lerebours's Excursions

as well as those he w o u l d later invest i n the redesign of his villa

photographs,

and garden, i t seems rather unlikely that excessive cost was the

daguerriennes

sole rationale for ceasing publication. I n 1 8 5 1 , the same year he

multiple copies to be printed, this manual intervention essen­

made

now

tially created a new picture, which immediately lost the intrin­

Orientalized home, Girault de Prangey returned to publishing,

sically photographic qualities that had so distinguished the

some

"after"

daguerreotype

views

of

his

40

( 1 8 4 2 ) . While having the advantage of allowing

again using the Lemercier firm to produce colored lithographs

original. The direct link between the photograph and the pho­

issued under the title Monuments et

tographed disappeared; what remained was a book of engrav­

paysages de

{'Orient

(Monuments and landscapes of the Orient). For this w o r k he

ings or lithographs, which, while interesting, was no substitute

appears to have reused some of the plates from Monuments

for

arabes d'Egypte, de

while adding new

Experiments were already under way to use the daguerreotype

38

plate itself as a printing block. This produced a result that was

Syrie, et d'Asie Mineure

subjects, including, for the first time, classical Greek studies.

the experience

of examining actual

daguerreotypes.

This series, too, was short-lived, presumably because it failed to

slightly more "photographic," but the surface of the daguerreo­

generate much public interest.

type plate was damaged or destroyed i n the process of making 41

the p r i n t s . By the time Girault de Prangey was publishing his lithographs, others, such as Talbot, were already illustrating books by pasting i n photographic p r i n t s .

88

IN

PERFECT

ORDER

42


Figure 1 4 . JOSEPH-PHILIBERT G I R A U L T DE PRANGEY

(French, 1 8 0 4 - 1 8 9 2 ) , Details, Mosquee d'Amrou, au

Kaire

(Details from the Mosque of A m r , Cairo), 1843. From Monuments arabes d'Egypte, de Syrie, et d'Asie Mineure dessines

et

mesures de 1842 a 1845 (Arab monu足 ments of Egypt, Syria, and Asia M i n o r drawn and measured from 1842 to 1845) (Paris: Lemercier, 1846), lithograph plate no. 5. British Library HS

74/LHO.

Reproduced by permission of the British Library.

89


Figure 15. JOSEPH-PHILIBERT GIRAULT DE (French,

PRANGEY

1804-1892),

Alhambra, 16, Avril 1833

17 et 18

(Alhambra,

A p r i l 1 6 , 1 7 , and 1 8 ) , 1 8 3 3 . Architectural-detail drawing w i t h watercolor, 23.5 x

30

(9V4 x

n

1 5

cm /i6

in.).

Private collection.

90


Unlike Talbot, w h o continued experimenting w i t h the fledgling

medium of photography because he was unable to

draw to his o w n satisfaction, Girault de Prangey was an accom­ plished artist even before he acquired photographic tools and techniques. His paintings, measured drawings, sketches, and lithographs reveal his talent and versatility, both of which undoubtedly contributed to his abilities as a photographer. The process of architectural (or measured)

drawing requires a

methodical study of the subject and demands an analytical approach to the interrelationship of architectural form and detail. I n Langres he had made measured drawings of Roman remains, closely studying their details. I n Spain during the early 1830s he drew the complex filigree patterns that characterize the decorative detailing of much Islamic architecture (fig. 15), and he continued making drawings while on his daguerreotype tour a decade later. His freehand sketches and preparatory drawings for lithographs no doubt influenced the very particu­ lar ways he composed his photographs. I n short, he had exten­ sive artistic preparation for becoming a photographer. Once he had mastered the technical aspects of photography, he was able to produce a remarkable body of w o r k i n different but related media. Girault de Prangey produced the earliest existing photo­ graphic images of many ancient Mediterranean sites. Invisible for decades, these daguerreotypes owe their survival to the conscientious care of later guardians. His contribution now occupies a unique position, bridging a gap between the finely executed architectural drawings of previous centuries and the photography of later generations. Generally following more commercial paths,

other nineteenth-century

photographers

lacked the time, money, or talent to approach similar subjects w i t h such depth or breadth of vision. Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey drew upon his interest i n and knowledge of several disciplines — archaeology, architecture, art, and

photogra­

p h y — to create timeless images of ancient places.

I N

PERFECT

ORDER

91


EARLY FRENC H PHOTOGRAPHER S I N EGYP T

n part because of interest engendered by Napoleon's 1798 expe­

John Beasley Greene, son of American parents living i n

dition to Egypt, most of the photographers w h o w o r k e d there i n

France, visited Egypt i n 1853 and 1854. His paper negatives, pro­

the 1840s and early 1850s were French. A m o n g them was the jour­

duced using a process he had learned from Le Gray, were printed

nalist M a x i m e D u Camp, w h o learned photography from Gustave

and published i n books by Blanquart-Evrard. M a n y of Greene's

Le Gray i n order to document a government-supported archaeolog­

highly atmospheric photographs are characterized by their l o w hori­

ical expedition from 1849 until 1851. The journals and letters of D u

zons and generous expanses of foreground sand, the graininess of

Camp's traveling companion, the great novelist Gustave Flaubert,

which is accentuated by the paper fibers of both negative and print.

vividly recount their journey, w h i c h extended to N u b i a , Syria, and

In his longitudinal view of the Temple of A m o n at Luxor, seen from

Palestine. D u Camp's negatives were later printed and published by

across the floodplain along the Nile, the seeming fragility of a palm

Blanquart-Evrard of Lille.

blowing i n the w i n d contrasts w i t h the overwhelming solidity of the

At A b u Simbel on the border between N u b i a and Upper Egypt, D u Camp had his boat crew clear away enough sand to make

In i 8 6 0 Gustave Le Gray himself ventured to the Near East.

a colossal head visible. He then persuaded an Egyptian servant to sit

After settling i n Egypt, he retraced the itineraries of his former

atop i t , allegedly by pretending that the camera contained a gun,

pupils D u Camp and Greene. Unlike them he employed the wet col­

which w o u l d fire i f the man d i d not remain motionless. The head

lodion on glass negative process, from which he produced startling-

represents Ramses 11 (ruled 1279-1213 B . C . ) , the builder of this

ly crisp albumen prints. The process was difficult to use i n the

rock-cut temple, the principal facade of w h i c h has four seated

Egyptian heat, but Le Gray had the advantage of traveling on the

figures of the monarch. Only the servant's face, smaller than the

Nile i n comparative comfort as part of the entourage of the ruling

pharaoh's eye, is i n deep shadow i n the midday sun. (Plate 1)

khedive's sons. A t Karnak, when the sun cut slashing shadows

The civil engineer Felix Teynard went to Egypt a year after

across an aisle of the hypostyle hall of the Temple of A m o n , he

D u Camp, and like D u Camp his only k n o w n photographs are those

aimed d o w n the length of the hall to the leaning column at its end.

that he made there. Because the ancient ground level of the temple

The result is arguably the most dramatic photograph made i n the

at Esna was far below that of Teynard's time, he was able to study

nineteenth century i n Egypt. (Plate i v )

at close range the lotus-blossom capitals of the sanctuary of K n u m and the hieroglyphics on the lintels above them. H i s masterful use of shadow brings forth abundant detail. Teynard's w o r k was

first

issued by H e n r i de Fonteny i n thirty-three installments of five prints each and later gathered into t w o massive volumes published by Goupil i n 1858. (Plate 11 )

94

architecture. (Plate 111 )

GB


Plate i . MAXIME D U CAMP (French,

1822-1894),

Nubie. I Ibsamboull Colosse occidental du Speos de Phre (Westernmost colossus, Great Temple, A b u Simbel), 1 8 5 0 . Salted paper print, 22.7 x 16.2

cm

( 8 / i e x 6Vs i n . ) . 1 5

J P G M 8 4 . XO. I 3 0 3 . 2 . 4 6 .

95


Plate I I .

F E L I X T E Y N A R D (French, 1 8 1 7 - 1 8 9 2 ) , Capitals, shafts, and architrave, Temple of K n u m , Esna. F r o m Egypte et (9 /i6 x izVs 3

96

Nubie: Sites et Monuments,

in.), J P G M 8 6 . X B . 6 9 3 . 1 . 7 1 .

negative: 1851-1852; print: 1853. Salted paper print, 24.9 x 30.8 cm


Plate H I .

J O H N B E A S L E Y G R E E N E (American, b. France, 1 8 3 2 - 1 8 5 6 ) , Temple of A m o n at L u x o r , 1853-1854. Salted paper print, 23.5 x 29.2 cm (9'A x 11V2 in.), J P G M 8 4 . X M . 3 6 1 . 2 . 97


Plate i v .

G U S T A V E L E G R A Y (French, 1 8 2 0 - 1 8 8 4 ) , Hypostyle H a l l , Temple of A m u n , Karnak, 1867. A l b u m e n silver p r i n t , 55.9 x 71.1 cm (22 x 28 in.), J P G M 9 5 . X M . 5 5 .

98


FRANCIS FRIT H I N EGYP T

T

he organizational skills and rigorous planning that enabled

its remote location, had escaped the attention of scavengers and

Francis Frith to retire from the wholesale grocery business as

retained most of its outer stone casing. I n each pyramid picture

a rich man at age thirty-three also enabled h i m to carry out three

Frith emphasized the enormous size of the structures, both by plac­

carefully plotted photographic expeditions to the Near East and

ing them i n yawning expanses of sand and by including people.

Egypt i n 1856, 1857, and 1859. Despite the difficult climatic condi­

(Plate v i )

tions there, he produced a sizable number of large-plate images and

On the marshy Theban plain Frith posed a scale figure stand­

even more stereoscopic views. After returning from his last and

ing on the knee of one of the colossi of M e m n o n i n addition to

longest trip, he established a printing and publishing firm that spe­

including men and horses i n the foreground. He chose a diagonal

cialized i n tourist views from around the British Isles, a successful

view so that the overall volumes of the enthroned figures w o u l d be

business that lasted until i 9 6 0 .

clearly shown even i f their heads were so badly eroded that the

Frith's photographs of Egypt and the H o l y Land were pub­ lished i n thirteen volumes, some i n portfolio format. The glossy albumen prints were accompanied by texts explaining the archaeo­

profiles were lost. The mortuary temple they once guarded has entirely disappeared. (Plate v n ) Frith's superbly composed image of the temple on the island

logical significance of their subjects, their literary associations, and

of Philae i n the Nile is titled hypaethral

Frith's intentions at the sites. A deeply religious man, he stressed

structure is k n o w n locally as "pharaoh's bed," or, more formally, as

connections to the O l d and N e w Testaments whenever possible.

the Kiosk of Trajan, for the Roman emperor w h o built this ceremo­

(open air, or roofless). The

Contemporary critics found Frith's Egyptian photographs superior

nial resting place. I n the foreground of the picture is the riverboat

to others of the period because of their size, clarity, and the format

Frith used for his travel on the Nile. The much smaller boat i n front

in which they were presented.

of i t has a tent that served as his d a r k r o o m for the necessary last-

In his large-plate study of the Great Pyramid of Cheops and

minute chemical manipulations before the wet collodion on glass

the Great Sphinx, the three minuscule figures near the flank of the

negatives were placed into the camera and after the exposures were

Sphinx almost disappear i n the tumbled sand. Their carefully

completed. (Plate v i n )

arranged pyramidal pose matches that of the white top of the tent

GB

peeking over the nearest dune. (Plate v) Similarly the three foreground figures i n Frith's view of the pyramids at Dahshur (which he spelled Dashoor) have shapes i m i ­ tating the colossal structures behind them. The rough heap of the badly deteriorated mud-brick Pyramid of Ahenemhet 11 1 .contrasts w i t h that of the distant bent Pyramid of Senefru, which, because of

99


Plate v.

F R A N C I S F R I T H (British, 1 8 2 2 - 1 8 9 8 ) , The Great Pyramid and 3

the Great Sphinx,

Albumen silver p r i n t , 38.6 x 48.6 cm ( i 5 / I 6 x 19V8 in.), J P G M 84.xo.434.17.

100

1858.


Plate v i .

F R A N C I S F R I T H (British, 1 8 2 2 - 1 8 9 8 ) , The Pyramids of

Dashoor, from

the East,

1858.

Albumen silver p r i n t , 37.7 x 48.5 cm ( i 4 / i 6 x 19V1 6 in.), J P G M 84.XM.633.5. 13

101


Plate

V I I .

F R A N C I S

F R I T H

(British, 1 8 2 2 - 1 8 9 8 ) , The Statues of the Plain, Thebes,

Albumen silver print, 3 6 . 9 x 4 7 . 5 cm ( 1 4 V 2 x 18V4 in.),

102

J P G M

185

84.xo.434.16.


Plate

VIII.

F R A N C I S

F R I T H

(British, 1 8 2 2 - 1 8 9 8 ) , The Hypaethral Temple,

Albumen silver print, 3 7 . 8 x 4 7 . 9 cm {i^Vs

x 1 8 % in.),

J P G M

Philae,

1858.

84.xo.434.10.

103


ANTIQUITY DEPICTE D

T

hroughout the Mediterranean, the archaeological site has loomed large as a focus 1

of memory and identity. Ruins contain the remnants of former worlds, a living reminder of the past in an ever-changing, perpetual present. When Pausanias, that indefatigable traveler through Greece, visited Mycenae in the second century A . D . the site was already an archaeological ruin, and he was just one of a number of learned tourists captivated by its history and mythology. The citadel was plainly visible, ringed by the massive Late Helladic fortifications, which the Classical-era

Greeks could not believe had been wrought by mortal hands and so claimed were "Cyclopean"—constructed by the one-eyed giants, the Cyclopes. Describing Mycenae,

Pausanias focused on the monument that in antiquity was a must-see and that remains one today, the Lion Gate: "Having ascended the Tretus and resumed the road to Argos, we have on the left the ruins of Mycenae" (Book 2.15.4)

"The Argives destroyed Mycenae out of

jealousy.... However, parts of the circuit wall are still left, including the gate, which is sur­ mounted by lions. These also are said to be the work of the Cyclopes, who made the walls of Tiryns for Proetus (Book 2.16.4)."

104

2

John K . Papadopoulos


Pausanias went on to relate how Mycenae figured i n the

were viewing just what Pausanias had written about. It is, how­

story surrounding one of the most prominent families i n Greek

ever, an image of an edifice very different from the one any

mythology and myth-history, a family that provided the stuff of

modern visitor w o u l d come u p o n . As Gregory Jusdanis put i t ,

legend for numerous Greek poets and tragedians, beginning

"[SJcrubbed, fenced off, and scaffolded, ruins have never looked

w i t h Homer, and that included such names as Agamemnon,

as they do n o w . " Indeed, our perception of any excavated

Aigisthos, Atreus, Klytemnestra, Elektra, Iphigeneia, and

monument, and even some standing ones, is determined and

6

Orestes. As a literary topos, Mycenae was never lost from

defined by archaeology because, i n its desire to save and restore

human memory, and due to its blatant physicality — not least

the past, archaeology transforms it into something modern.

its enormous surviving walls and the impressive L i o n Gate —

Produced about five years after the Lion Gate photo­

the site was never lost from human view. I t was an ancient ruin

graph is Baron Paul des Granges's albumen print showing

that endured to become very much part of a modern landscape.

the Archaic (sixth century B.C.) Temple of Apollo at Corinth

Pausanias's description was dominated by words, which

(fig. 2 ) . This photograph not only frames the best-preserved

7

have an ability to survive across the millennia so much more

standing monument at the site, but it also captures the tower­

intact than pictures. We do not k n o w whether Pausanias

ing, imposing brow of Acrocorinth, the fortified citadel, or

enlivened his text w i t h illustrations, like the sketches i n the

acropolis, of ancient Corinth, a palimpsest of defensive walls

3

travelogues of Sir W i l l i a m Gell ; certainly none has survived.

that includes segments from the Classical period through the

Prior to the modern w o r l d view, our very image of antiquity

Roman era and into Byzantine and post-Byzantine times. The

was

image predates by some thirty years the initial excavation of the

dominated by philology: memory and i m a g i n a t i o n ,

whether consciously or subconsciously, were shaped by words

site, conducted during the academic year 1 8 9 5 - 1 8 9 6 by the

rather than pictures.

American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

One of the earliest surviving photographs of the L i o n

As Benjamin Ide Wheeler pointed out i n a February 2,

Gate dates to about 1859 (fig. 1), twenty years after the first

1896, letter i n the New York Tribune,

photographs were made i n Greece and Rome, so i t is clear that

Greek city had hitherto been undertaken. (That year Wheeler

no excavation of a large

Mycenae was not among the sites visited by the first persons to

was teaching Greek language and literature at the American

travel this region bearing cameras and light-sensitive materials.

School.) The Deutsches Archaologisches Institut excavations at

The gate was probably built sometime i n the mid-thirteenth

Olympia and those at Delphi and Delos by the Ecole franchise

century B.C. We do not k n o w w h o captured the image, but by

d'Athenes were of sanctuary sites, even though Delos had i n

1875

as

part been an urban nucleus during the Hellenistic era. N o r ,

of the

Wheeler maintained, was any other such site as Corinth avail­

well-established

Constantine

Athanassiou

Greek were

photographers

such

recording details

fortifications of other Late Bronze Age citadels i n the Argolid, 4

106

5

able, for modern buildings covered the other prominent Greek

such as T i r y n s . The 1859 image is all the more evocative for

cities. He therefore appealed to the American public for fund­

illustrating the portal filled w i t h debris that had accumulated

ing to do for the American School what the French and German

over the centuries. Predating the first excavations at Mycenae

governments had done for theirs — another example of archae­

by Heinrich Schliemann i n 1876 by almost twenty years, the

ology and nationalism. From the beginning, the excavations at

photograph shows that part of the site more or less as

Corinth were largely financed w i t h contributions from reluctant

8

Schliemann encountered i t . To what extent i t shows what

donors. But the project was to have a life of its o w n , since exca­

Pausanias saw, we may never know. N o r do we k n o w i f m i d -

vations there by the American School continue to this day.

nineteenth-century travelers saw what he encountered there,

Ironically, the city center of Archaic Corinth still eludes archae­

but i t is likely that — guidebook i n hand — they thought they

ologists, perhaps because i t lies under the tavernas, tourist

ANTIQUITY

DEPICTED


Figure i . A N O N Y M O U S ,

The Gate of the Lions at Mycenae,

ca. 1 8 5 9 .

Albumen silver print, 26.7 x (10V2 x

21

cm

8%

GRI 92.R.84

in.). (03.18).

107


Figure 2.

B A R O N

P A U L

D E S

G R A N G E S

Temple of Apollo at Corinth, G R I 92.R.84 (04.25.Ol). 108

(German, b. i n Greece 1825, active 1860s and early 1870s), ca. 1865. Albumen silver print, 24.4 x 39 cm (9 /s x i $V$ in.) 5


shops, and modern houses of O l d Corinth, the small t o w n that

The carefully framed view of the Temple of Poseidon by

grew around the most prominent ruins of the site to accommo­

Petros Moraites, showing a boat at full sail i n the foreground,

date archaeologists and visitors.

sailors appropriately facing the camera and the Greek flag

In 1810, more than five decades before the Baron des

prominently aloft at the stern — there is no mistaking the

Granges photographed the Temple of Apollo, a young George

nationality of the vessel or monument — dates to 1 8 6 5 - 1 8 7 0

G o r d o n — L o r d Byron — stood on Acrocorinth's brow. As a

(fig. 3). I t is on this marbled steep that Byron ends his lyric elegy

poet, Byron was well versed in the process of making pictures

to the isles of Greece. The photograph was probably taken from

w i t h words. In his poem "The Siege of C o r i n t h " he figuratively

land at the western end of the small, protected bay below the

urged the reader to join h i m there:

temple. Clearly visible around the temple is the wall of the temenos, or sacred area, of the sanctuary; and visible about

But those hardy days flew cheerily!

halfway down the hill are remnants of the Classical-period

And when they now fall drearily,

fortification wall that led d o w n to the Sounion ship sheds.

My thoughts, like swallows, skim the main,

Although the temple is popularly identified w i t h Poseidon, it is

And hear my spirit back again

not certain which deity was worshiped there — as is the case

Over the earth, and through the air,

w i t h so many Greek temples. I n the first chapter

A wild bird and a wanderer.

Description of

Tis this that ever wakes my strain,

noted "a temple of Sounian Athena on the summit," but he did

And oft, too oft, implores again

not mention Poseidon.

The few who may endure my lay,

Greece,

of his

Pausanias detailed Cape Sounion and

W h a t these three early photographs

of Mycenae,

To follow me so far away.

Corinth, and Sounion have i n common — apart from the fact

Stranger—wilt thou follow now,

that they depict sites featured prominently in Pausanias — is

And sit with me on Acro-Corinth's brow?

that the places they show were, and largely remain, ones that were never overlaid by modern towns or cities. They were pic­

This was not the only picturesque ruin to have inspired

turesque ruins long before the modern era, the sorts of places

Lord Byron, for at the so-called Temple of Poseidon at Sounion

that, as Jusdanis so nicely put i t , "have always incited a

he experienced

reflective, lyrical or melancholic response . . . the sight of crum­

what appears to have been a moment of

epiphany and rapture. I n "The Isles of Greece" (Don Juan,

bling temples, of abandoned cities overgrown w i t h shrubs, of

Canto 111), he wrote:

marble heads peering out through the sand, of roads grown 9

silent." Here was the very image of "irresistible decay." Place me on Suniums marbled steep Where nothing, save the waves and I, Can hear our mutual murmurs sweep; There, swan-like, let me sing and die: A land of slaves shall ne'er be mine — Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!

10

When photography was invented, i n 1839, the nascent state of modern Greece was only a few years o l d , and early pho­ tographers of Greek antiquities had an array of monuments to choose from in their creation of what Andrew Szegedy-Maszak 11

has called "true illusions." Nevertheless, among the hundreds of archaeological sites i n Greece, relatively few were to become icons of the sort that w o u l d serve as metonymic representations of the newly formed nation — and none so evocatively as the Athenian Acropolis. Moreover, the new technologies of repro­ duction, rather than threatening the aesthetic aura of art, as

ANTIQUITY

DEPICTED

109


Walter Benjamin noted, tended to reinforce the power and allure of the o r i g i n a l .

12

That was because these illusions,

whether wittingly or unwittingly, depicted modern versions of antiquity. M y aim i n the following sections, which focus on ancient sites i n Athens, is to demonstrate h o w images negoti­ ate between expectations, reality, and the ideal. The first sec­ tion, "Antiquity Depicted," addresses the issue of the invention of ideal imageries that are products of their time and con­ temporary understandings. The second section, "The Ancient Topography of Athens," deals w i t h the antithesis, namely, h o w photographs can provide real historical information for read­ ing certain aspects of antiquity. The concluding section, " A Cultural Biography of the Theseion," is something of a synthe­ sis of the other t w o . Focusing on a small building that figures

Figure 3.

vitally i n the topography of both ancient and modern Athens,

PETROS

this section tries to delineate h o w the ideal and the real can be

M O R A I T E S

(Greek, ca.

1835-1905,

active Athens 1 8 6 0 S - 1 8 7 0 S ) ,

combined to allow an alternative approach to monuments i n

The Temple of Poseidon at

terms of their cultural biography.

Sounion,

ca. 1 8 6 5 - 1 8 7 0 .

Albumen silver print, 23 x GRI

no

ANTIQUITY

DEPICTED

31

cm

92.R.84

(9 x

12V4 in.).

(06.02.01).


Ill


A N T I Q U I T Y DEPICTED

/ g j | \ NTIQUITY

DEPICTED

is the title of a small book by

/JBBmK Stuart Piggott, published i n 1978, that deals w i t h LlJ T E L

A

archaeological illustration. Piggott opens by citing

what William

Strukely, first secretary

Changes i n , and the evolution of, visual conventions can similarly be traced by comparing three renderings of the Parthenon produced over several centuries. Ciriaco d'Ancona's

of the Society of

drawing from about 1436 of the west facade (fig. 4 ) — t h e first

Antiquaries, London, wrote in the first minutes book of the

k n o w n extant illustration of the Parthenon — depicts the tem­

organization in 1717: " W i t h o u t drawing or designing, the Study

ple i n a way that bears little resemblance to Jacob Spon's three-

of Antiquities or any other Science is lame and imperfect.'"

13

Strukely was certainly right i n asserting that archaeo­

15

dimensional "isometric" reconstruction i n his Voyage dTtalie, de Dalmatie, de Grece et du Levant,

published in 1678 (fig. 5),

logy w i t h o u t illustration w o u l d be a lame and imperfect disci­

or to the 1751 engraving by Edward Rooker (fig. 6). Yet despite

pline, and by so doing he was among the first to confront the

the overt differences between the renderings, certain details

historical dichotomy between words and pictures i n the study

remain constant.

of the past. But it is also true that the various ways i n which

Ciriaco d'Ancona has the right number of columns

C I R I A C O

D ' A N C O N A

(Italian, ca.

earlier antiquarians and contemporary scholars have visually

along what purports to be the west facade, and the Doric

interpreted the archaeological past have been complex and

columns are fluted and without bases. However, the building is

evolving — and have shaped how antiquity itself has been con­

proportionately too tall and narrow and the pediment consid­

Parthenon,

ceived. As Ernst Gombrich elaborated, a pictorial representation

erably steeper than i n most Greek temples. Moreover, the inter-

M S H a m i l t o n 254,

columniation — the spacing between columns — is all wrong,

fol. 85r. Berlin,

1391-1455),

is not a faithful record of a visual experience but the faithful

for Ciriaco could not solve the problem that has bedeviled

construction of a relational model. Neither the subjectivity

many novices of classical architecture: what to do w i t h the

of vision nor the sway of conventions need lead us to deny

columns at either end and their relationship to the entablature

that such a model can be constructed to any required degree

if the columns are rendered as more or less equidistant from

of accuracy. What is decisive here is clearly the word

one another? Greek architects got around this problem by

"required."

employing what modern architectural historians call Doric con­

T h e f o r m o f a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n c a n n o t be d i v o r c e d

f r o m its p u r p o s e a n d the requirements o f the society i n w h i c h the given visual language gains currency

[emphasis mine].

14

traction; that is, they carefully altered the distances between columns. Spon understood the problem of intercolumniation only too well, but he dealt w i t h i t by increasing the space

A l l illustrations of antiquities, whether of monuments i n

between the middle t w o columns and presenting t w o groups of

the ground or of portable small finds or even of ancient land­

four equidistant columns. This solution, although ingenious,

scapes, are products of their o w n time and the result of prevail­

was not on the original, and his Parthenon, like Ciriaco's, is

ing conventions. I n order to demonstrate the changing sway of

much too narrow, w i t h an impossibly tall and imposing pedi­

conventions, Piggott cogently compared various representations

ment. Moreover, neither Spon nor Ciriaco appreciated the

of Stonehenge, beginning w i t h one from a fourteenth-century

refinements of the building; each presented a boxlike Parthenon

romance that depicts M e r l i n erecting the great monument and

composed of straight lines. A n d i n both renderings, there are

continuing on up to John Constable's early nineteenth-century

further inaccuracies i n the stylobate and entablature. What

watercolor of the site.

both have i n common is that they present the Parthenon in splendid isolation, divorced not only from the buildings

112

Figure 4.

ANTIQUITY

DEPICTED

West Facade of the ca. 1436.

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Handschriftenabteilung.


that surrounded i t but also from the hill on which i t stood. As we shall see, this was to become a popular formula i n early photographs

of ancient sites, since depictions of isolated,

decontextualized monuments appealed to the expectations of nineteenth-century viewers. Ciriaco's

d r a w i n g has

been

described

by

Robin

M i d d l e t o n as little more than a crude approximation of the original Parthenon. Yet it remains significant because after the fall of Constantinople i n 1453 and the Ottoman conquest of Greece a few years later, Athens, and especially the Acropolis, became virtually inaccessible to Westerners.

16

Although later

scholars and travelers to Athens — not least James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, w h o provided some of the most enduring and accurate drawings of Athenian monuments, some of which no longer survive — strove to render the buildings on the Acropolis and especially the Parthenon as accurately as possible, they were at the disadvantage of having to deal w i t h a building that was a wrecked remnant of its former self. On

September

17

2 1 , 1687, the Venetian army under

Francesco M o r o s i n i landed at Piraeus, and on the twenty-third, two batteries positioned themselves on the H i l l of the Muses and began firing at the Acropolis. A t 7 : 0 0 P . M . on September 26, a mortar fired by Morosini's German lieutenant hit the Parthenon, part of which was being used to store gunpowder; the explosion carried away practically the whole of the cella and its frieze, eight columns on the n o r t h side, and six on the south, together w i t h their entablature. A fire raged on the Acropolis for t w o days, and the Parthenon was essentially cut into t w o ruinous parts.

18

Jacob Spon (together w i t h George

Wheler) was one of the last European scholars to have seen and, more important, to have drawn the temple before i t was rav­ aged. His drab and "miserable e n g r a v i n g . . . was to serve as the standard image of the Parthenon for more than sixty years."

19

Constructed between 447 and 432 B.C., the Parthenon was con­ verted into a Christian church probably toward the end of the sixth century A . D . , during the reign of the Christian emperor Justinian; it was dedicated first to Saint Sophia and then to the V i r g i n M o t h e r of God (Theotokou). After the O t t o m a n conquest i n the fifteenth century, the Parthenon was converted into a mosque,

20

a building that roused awe i n Spon and his

ANTIQUITY

DEPICTED

113


companions when they hastened to visit i t i n the 1670s: "We

issued depicting the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Theseion,

hastened to go to see the large mosque, which had once been

the M o n u m e n t of Lysikrates, and the Tower of the W i n d s . O n

the Temple of Minerva, and was the largest building on the

the basis of the surviving pedimental sculpture, Dalton had

citadel. The sight of i t roused a certain awe i n us, and we stood

depicted the west facade of the Parthenon. This is the side of the

considering i t for a long time, w i t h o u t tiring our eyes."

21

The state of the Parthenon following Morosini's attack

22

building one first sees upon entering the Acropolis from the Propylaia, but i n antiquity i t was considered the back of the

is well captured i n the Edward Rooker engraving, made after a

building. As noted, this was the facade Ciriaco d'Ancona illus足

drawing by Richard D a l t o n (see fig. 6). I t was one of twenty-

trated and, i t seems fairly clear, the same side Jacob Spon ren足

one prints of plans, views, and architectural details that D a l t o n

dered. Both Ciriaco and Spon show the pedimental sculpture

Figure 5 . JACOB

SPON

(French, 1647-1685), The Parthenon.

From

Jacob Spon, Voyage dTtalie, de Dalmatie, de Grece et du Levant, fait

is annees

1675 et 1676 (Lyon: Antoine Cellier le fils, 1678), vol. 2, facing p. 188.

114

ANTIQUITY

DEPICTED


Figure 6 . E D W A R D

R O O K E R

(English, I 7 i 2 ? - i 7 7 4 ) , after Richard D a l t o n (English, I 7 i 5 ? - i 7 9 i ) , A View of the Parthenon or of Minerva at

Temple Athens,

1751. Engraving. G R I 85-B23048.

as virtually intact. Furthermore, i t is evident from the drawings

Jacques Carrey and are i n the Bibliotheque nationale de France,

commissioned by Charles-Francois Olier, marquis de N o i n t e l ,

Paris; they provide the best information we have today—visual

in 1674 that, apart from the collapse of the central portion of

or otherwise — about the Classical sculpture of the Parthenon. Dalton's 1751 drawing is a sad reminder of the damage

the east pediment — probably due to the construction of the apse i n late antiquity — the pedimental sculpture

remained

caused by the bombardment. Further damage w o u l d result

largely untouched up to the M o r o s i n i bombardment, even

from the pillaging of the Parthenon, and the Acropolis general­

though many heads and limbs had not survived the passage of

ly, initiated by Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin, i n

time. The drawings commissioned by N o i n t e l , which besides

1801.

the pediments include the metopes and frieze, are attributed to

painter Giovanni Battista Lusieri, teams of workers seized many

2 3

Directed by L o r d Elgin's authorized representative, the

ANTIQUITY

DEPICTED

115


of the statues that remained of the pediment or were buried i n

captured by Edward Dodwell i n t w o colored engravings dated

the citadel ruins. They took d o w n more than fifty slabs from

A p r i l 5, 1 8 0 5 .

the frieze of the Parthenon as well as fifteen of the metopes.

28

It was Lusieri, L o r d Elgin's representative, w h o some­

They also removed one of the Erechtheion Caryatids—Lord

time between 1800 and 1809 made a fabulously photo-realistic

Elgin's chaplain, Philip H u n t , even suggested that the entire

watercolor of the Philopappos M o n u m e n t that is i n the Earl of

Caryatid Portico be dismantled and reconstructed i n England —

Elgin's collection.

as well as part of the frieze on the Temple of Athena N i k e . I n

photo-realistic engraving depicting a view of the Parthenon

29

I n 1805 Dodwell prepared

a similarly

1816 Lord Elgin's collection was sold to the British Museum,

from the Propylaia (fig. 7). Lusieri's and Dodwell's representa­

where the sculptures were put on display the following year and

tions, like many works of that time, are w o r t h y antecedents to

where they have remained to this day. These were only some of

photography, as they highlight an approach to illustration that

the more famous items that made their way to the British

stresses the then-emerging recognition of the role played by

Museum. I n Mycenae, Lord Elgin — having taken some pieces

historical topography.

from the facade of the Treasury of Atreus, the largest of the tholos tombs in Mycenae — even cast his eye on the Lion Gate.

24

But its distance from the sea, coupled w i t h the difficulties of transportation, forced h i m to abandon that project.

Dodwell had i n fact found the perfect spot from which to make his view, atop the n o rt h wall of the Propylaia.

30

What

this image reveals, as do numerous seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and early nineteenth-century illustrations, is the extent to which

Lord Elgin must have had at least a pang of guilt, for i n

the citadel was inhabited. Although the main area of habitation

1811 he presented the city and people of Athens w i t h a clock.

in Athens, from the thirteenth century on, was situated on the

A tower was constructed for it i n 1814 i n what was then the

north side of the Acropolis — in part to conceal much of the

bazaar — not far from what is today the bustling center of

populated area from view from the sea — illustrations such as

Monasteraki — near the Fethiye Djami and the Tower of the

Dodwell's show that the Acropolis had the potential to accom­

Winds. Among the most remarkable and idiosyncratic build­

modate a great many people and that i t could function as the

ings of Classical antiquity, the Tower of the Winds (more prop­

nucleus of a substantial urban settlement.

31

W i t h i n a few

erly, the Horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhestes) was itself an

decades after Dodwell made his view, almost all the prominent

25

Byzantine, Frankish, and O t t o m a n structures on the citadel vis­

The t w o towers are illustrated i n a number of early and m i d -

ible i n figure 7 had been cleared as part of an official policy of

elaborate combination sundial, water clock, and weathervane. nineteenth-century

watercolors and engravings.

26

They

are

the new Greek state to bring the Classical Acropolis back to

shown, juxtaposed w i t h a towering palm tree, i n a haunting

life. The result was not only the destruction of the later

1842 daguerreotype by Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey.

Athenian Acropolis but also a revitalization that was very much

(For a discussion and illustration of this picture, see Stewart,

defined by the Neoclassical sensitivities of the archaeologists

pp. 7 4 - 7 5 . ) The Tower of the Winds, along w i t h the arches of

of that day.

32

Hymettian marble of the wrongly named Agoranomion illus­

The birth of a new nation and the process of nation-

trated i n Girault de Prangey's image, stand taller today because

building collided i n a remarkable way w i t h archaeology and

the ground level was lowered by archaeologists excavating the

European ideals, and early photographers, w i t h their newly

area of the Forum of Caesar and Augustus. The palm tree and

developed techniques, were there to capture i t a l l .

clock tower no longer survive; the latter was damaged by fire i n

of some of the houses, as well as portions of streets or paths

1884 and demolished the following year.

27

I n the time of L o r d

33

Remnants

seen i n Dodwell's view were still visible i n the engraving, dating

Elgin and Lord Byron, the Tower of the Winds was occupied as

to 1842, by Frederic Martens after an 1839 daguerreotype by

a Tekke by dervishes, whose performances were immortally

Pierre-Gustave Joly de Lotbiniere (published by Noel-Marie-

117


Paymal Lerebours), showing the Parthenon and its immediate

The tower had been erected by the Florentine rulers

surrounding from the northwest (fig. 8). As Andrew Szegedy-

of Athens i n the late fourteenth century; built into the south­

Maszak elaborates, Joly de Lotbiniere commented i n a note

west corner of the Propylaia, i t formed part of the medieval

accompanying this view that it "was made i n the autumn of

fortifications of the citadel. Its demolition i n 1875

1839; I mention this fact because it was the first time the image

funded by none other than Heinrich Schliemann, excavator of

of the Parthenon was fixed on a plate by Daguerre's brilliant

Mycenae, i n an attempt to reveal a purer, more Classical,

invention, and because each year can bring new changes i n the

Acropolis.

appearance of these famous r u i n s . "

34

a

s

largely

W h a t is important to bear i n mind is that both

photographs predate the large-scale excavations that Panayiotis

The mosque visible i n the cella of the Parthenon was

Kavvadias, w i t h W i l h e l m Dorpfeld and Georg Kawerau, con­

constructed during the late seventeenth or early eighteenth cen­

ducted between 1882 and 1890; these revealed the substantial

tury and was briefly used as a museum before its demolition i n

Archaic p o d i u m of the Parthenon, the temple best k n o w n as the

the early 1840s. M a n y of the same remnants were still visible i n

Dorpfeld

the salted print made by the Reverend George Wilson Bridges

Artemis Brauronia, the Temple of Roma and Augustus, the

in 1848 (fig. 9), but these ephemera of O t t o m a n Athens were

Archaic korai

not to remain for long. I n August 1834, several months before

Persian pottery and other small

Athens was proclaimed the capital of Greece, a young King

Foundations, the Chalkotheke, the Sanctuary of (statues of maidens), and a plethora of pre39

finds.

A photographic view taken on the Acropolis that pre­

O t t o officially visited the Acropolis w i t h the regents, ministers,

dates the Kavvadias, Dorpfeld, and Kawerau excavations as

and others i n his entourage.

Seated on a throne i n the

well as the Frankish Tower demolition is the albumen print of

Parthenon, he heard the German architect Leo von Klenze

1870 by Petros Moraites (fig. 12). I t shows both the Propylaia

deliver a speech i n which he inaugurated the Acropolis excava­

and the Erechtheion, including the Caryatid Portico (in the

tions and promised to remove all vestiges of barbarity i n order

center), "liberated" from the later remains that are visible i n

to reveal the remains of the glorious past as the "solid founda­

Dodwell's engraving, though the Frankish Tower looms large

tion of a glorious present and f u t u r e . "

35

and a sizable medieval cistern — still there today—captures the

Joly de Lotbiniere's comments were to prove prescient. The extent and the pace of the nineteenth-century interventions

foreground. The same cistern was the focus of Girault de Prangey's daguerreotype of 1842 (see fig. 1 1 , p. 83).

on the Acropolis were phenomenal; they can be gleaned by

But the edifice that was truly liberated from

the

comparing t w o photographs of the Acropolis South Slope

Byzantine and post-Byzantine clutter all around was

the

taken, respectively, about i 8 6 0 - 1 8 6 5 (fig. 10) and about 1880

Parthenon. Moraites's classic image of the temple, taken from

36

(fig. 11). The earlier view, by Dimitrios Constantin, shows the

the northwest, not only displays the Parthenon i n its post-

so-called Frankish Tower and the soil dumps generated by the

M o r o s i n i bombardment state but also populates the image w i t h

cleaning operations of the Athens Archaeological Society, which

gentlemen i n European attire and a Hellene i n traditional cos­

adopted the expedient technique of simply throwing the debris

tume (fig. 1 3 ) .

over the south wall of the A c r o p o l i s .

118

38

w

37

40

Ancient and contemporary Greece were cap­

Some fifteen years later,

tured i n the one image. Here was a quintessential Neoclassical

as the albumen print by Constantine Athanassiou shows, not

vision of antiquity depicted, an antiquity brought to life by

only were the soil dumps gone — the earth and debris dumped

archaeology. Yet because of archaeology, virtually no trace sur­

over parts of the area k n o w n today as M a k r i y i a n n i , to the south

vives today of numerous substantial structures that were stand­

and southwest of the Odeion of Herodes Atticus — but so, too,

ing intact less than t w o hundred years ago. Several centuries of

was the Frankish Tower.

use and occupation are now lost from human view.

ANTIQUITY

DEPICTED


Figure 7.

E D W A R D D O D W E L L (English, 1 7 6 7 - 1 8 3 2), View of the Parthenon from Views in Greece, from Drawings by

Edward Dodwell

the Propylaea,

1805. From Edward D o d w e l l ,

(London: Rodwell and M a r t i n , 1821). Reproduced by permission

of Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University i n the City of N e w York. 119


Figure 8 .

T/?*? Parthenon.

Engraving by Frederic Martens of 1 8 4 2 after daguerreotype of 1 8 3 9 by Pierre-Gustave Joly

de Lotbiniere. F r o m Noel-Marie-Paymal Lerebours, Excursions daguerriennes: remarquables du

120

globe

Vues

et monuments les

plus

(Paris, 1 8 4 2 ) , plate 2 4 . Image, 15.1 x 2 0 . 3 cm ( 5 / i 6 x 8 in.), J P G M 8 4 . X B . 1 1 8 7 . 2 4 . 15


Figure 9.

REV. G E O R G E

W I L S O N

B R I D G E S

(English, 1 7 8 8 - 1 8 6 3 ) , The Parthenon,

1848. V i e w from the

3

northwest. Salted paper print, 16.7 x 21.5 cm (6 /s x 8V2 in.), G R I 9 2 . R . 8 4 (02.02).

121


Figure 1 0 .

D I M I T R I O S C O N S T A N T I N (Greek, active 1 8 5 8 - 1 8 6 0 S ) . Genera! view of the Athenian Acropolis and the South Slope f r o m the southwest, ca. i 8 6 0 - 1 8 6 5 . Albumen silver print, 2 8 . 6 x 3 8 . 7 cm {11V4

122

x 15V4

in.), J P G M

84.XM.366.2.


Figure n .

C O N S T A N T I N E A T H A N A S S I O U (Greek, active 1 8 7 5 - 1 8 9 6 ) . General view of the Athenian Acropolis and the South Slope, after the removal of the soil dumps and the Frankish Tower, ca. 1880. Albumen silver p r i n t , 20.2 x 25.9 cm (8 x 10V4 in.), G R I 92.R.84 (04.01.07). 123


Figure 12.

P E T R O S M O R A I T E S (Greek, ca. 1 8 3 5 - 1 9 0 5 , active Athens 1 8 6 0 S - 1 8 7 0 S ) , The Erechtheion and the Propylaia, 1870. A l b u m e n silver print, 37.8 x 50.3 cm (14% x

124

IJWU

in.), J P G M 8 5 . X M . 3 6 8 . 3 .


Figure 13.

P E T R O S M O R A I T E S (Greek, ca. 1 8 3 5 - 1 9 0 5 , active Athens 1 8 6 0 S - 1 8 7 0 S ) . The Parthenon "liberated," 1 8 7 0 . n

Albumen silver print, 37.3 x 50.5 cm ( i 4 / i 6 x 19% in.). J P G M 8 5 . X M . 3 6 8 . 1 . 125


The view presented by Moraites i n 1870 has become a metonymic representation of contemporary Greece. The other preferred

view, so well captured i n the photographs

by

Constantin and Athanassiou (see figs. 10, 11), shows the entire Acropolis from the southwest, though even i n those images the Parthenon is the anchor, dominating the center of the frame. The photographs were taken from the H i l l of the Muses, the ancient summit that had been crowned i n the early second cen足 tury A . D . by the monument of C. Julius Antiochus Philopappus (Philopappos), a prince of Commagene, w h o had a distin足 guished career as a Roman consul and praetor and as an Athenian citizen. Virtually intact i n the mid-1430s, when Ciriaco d'Ancona saw i t , i t later became a ruin, though much of it is preserved today. The monument of Pentelic marble placed on top of Philopappos's tomb faces toward the Acropolis and became one of the most visible features of the topography of Athens, so much so that i n the course of time the hill itself came to be k n o w n as Philopappou. From the monument one has a sweeping view not only of the Acropolis but also of M o u n t Hymettos, the Attic plain w i t h its encircling mountains (includ足 ing Pentelikon), and the Saronic Gulf, w i t h the islands of Aigina and Salamis. Constantine Athanassiou captured the monument well i n an albumen print from about 1 8 7 5 - 1 8 8 0 (fig. 14). The photograph highlights the "photographers' perch," for a cam足 era t r i p o d is just visible to the right of the monument. Standing where he took the photograph, Athanassiou simply had to turn 180 degrees to the left or right to see not only the Acropolis as rendered i n figures 10 and 11 but also antiquity depicted.


Figure 14. CONSTANTINE ATHANASSIOU

(Greek,

active 1 8 7 5 - 1 8 9 6 ) ,

The "photographers' perch" at the summit of the H i l l of the Muses, showing the Philopappos Monument with camera tripod, ca.

1875-1880.

Albumen silver print, 26.3 x 20.9

cm

3

( i o / s x 8V4 i n . ) . GRI

92.R.84

(04.II.O3).

127


Figure 1 5 .

P E T R O S M O R A I T E S (Greek, ca. 1 8 3 5 - 1 9 0 5 , active Athens 1860S-1870S), The City of Theseus, ca. 1 8 6 5 - 1 8 7 0 . V i e w from the southeast, showing the A r c h of H a d r i a n and the Acropolis Southeast Slope. 5

3

A l b u m e n silver print, ca. 2 4 . 5 x 3 2 . 5 cm (ca. 9 /s x i 2 / 4 in.), G R I 9 2 . R . 8 4 ( 0 6 . 0 2 . 0 8 ) .


THE

A N C I E N T T O P O G R A P H Y OF A T H E N S

" 7 1 N T H I S S E C T I O N I want to show how photographs can S

provide historical information for reading certain aspects

least one by Dimitrios Constantin that dates to about 1865 (fig. 16).

I t shows the standing columns of the Temple of Olympian

_ _ l of antiquity, particularly topography. 1 begin w i t h an

Zeus, the Arch of Hadrian, the Panathenaic Stadium (which

example

w o u l d be reconstructed for the first Olympiad of the modern

that combines

prehistoric and historic Athens.

Sometime between 1865 and 1870, Petros Moraites set up his

era, in 1896), and M o u n t Hymettos in the background.

42

tripod and camera a little to the southeast of the A r c h of

Whether or not Moraites was trying to render the city of

Hadrian and captured an image of what can only be described

Theseus is moot, though it is highly likely he was aware of the

as the city of Theseus (fig. 15). The Arch of Hadrian, an isolat­

inscriptions on the Arch of Hadrian. What he cannot have

ed gateway of Pentelic marble, was erected by the emperor

k n o w n was that, by situating the cave at the center of his pic­

Hadrian i n about A . D . 132, i n part as a dedication to his alma

ture, he had captured the heart of Archaic Athens. Almost a

mater but chiefly to mark the interface between the ancient city

century after the photograph was taken, a discovery was made

of Athens and Novae Athenae, or Hadrianopolis, the new city

of an inscription, in association w i t h its original base i n situ,

of Hadrian. The arch, however, is not at the center of the pho­

that places the Sanctuary of Aglauros near the natural cave on

tograph. Indeed, i t is not immediately clear what, exactly,

the east side — the cave i n our photograph — rather than on the

Moraites was trying to frame, since the far, west end of the

Northwest Slope, as had previously been t h o u g h t . W h a t the

43

Acropolis—where hundreds of thousands of visitors today

discovery implied was that several important monuments of old

ascend and descend — is just outside the frame, and the arch, at

Athens — such as the Anakeion, the Theseion, the Prytaneion,

the right, vies w i t h the east end of the Acropolis for attention.

and w i t h them the original Agora, or marketplace—would

Several clusters of men stand near the arch, most of them

have been located east of the Acropolis and therefore nearer the

dressed in western attire, including a r o w of distinctly unthreat-

primary area of early habitation, which was south of the

ening gendarmes, while a bolder figure, wearing a traditional

citadel. I n light of this find, i t is remarkable i f not uncanny that

Greek costume, is conspicuous in the far-right foreground.

41

A

Moraites's photograph, and the inscription on the northwest

line of trees at left helps frame the ancient hillside and the

side of the arch announcing the "city of Theseus," face exactly

numerous contemporary buildings below i t . A t the actual cen­

the area of the Archaic Agora. Contrary to the traditional view,

ter of the photograph is the small cave on the east side of the

which places the Archaic Agora to the northwest, where the

citadel, partly obscured by one of the soil dumps created by the

Classical (or New) Agora was located,

Athens Archaeological Society.

that the old marketplace was right here, i n the heart of the city

If there is a theme to this image, it seems to be the rela­ tionship of the arch to the Acropolis. The viewer, however, can­ not

44

the discovery showed 45

of the legendary Athenian hero Theseus. The revisions to the topography of Athens are set out on the map (fig. 17).

see the inscriptions on either side of the gateway. The one

on the northwest facade, facing the Acropolis reads, "This is Athens, the former [or ancient] city of Theseus"; the inscription on

the southeast side, facing the camera and the Temple of

Olympian Zeus, proclaims, "This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus." The city of Hadrian is depicted in a number of early photographs taken from the east end of the Acropolis, not

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129


Figure 16.

D I M I T R I O S C O N S T A N T I N (Greek, active 1 8 5 8 - 1 8 6 0 S ) , The City of H a d r i a n , ca. 1865. V i e w showing the Temple of O l y m p i a n Zeus, the A r c h of H a d r i a n , the Panathenaic Stadium (before its modern reconstruction), and M o u n t Hymettos i n the background. A l b u m e n silver p r i n t , 28.5 x 38 cm ( U V A X 15 in.), G R I 92.R.84 (04.18.01).

130


erable light on the history and topography of the monuments they illustrate. A m o n g many such cases i n point, I want to focus on one, the west side of the Acropolis, and the ceremonial entrance through which all modern visitors and many Classicalera visitors have gained access to the citadel. The entrance illustrated i n the view taken about 1854 by James Robertson (fig. 18)—a remarkably idiosyncratic pho­ tographer

w h o captured

noncanonical views of Athenian

monuments — is k n o w n as the Beule Gate, after the French archaeologist Charles-Ernest Beule, w h o discovered it i n 1852. It consists of a marble wall set between t w o unequal pylons pierced by a gateway that is aligned w i t h the central opening of the Propylaia. The wall served a defensive purpose; it was erected i n A . D . 280 following the Herulian sack of Athens and was paid for by F. Septimus Marcellinus. The gate was built of stones from the destroyed Choregic M o n u m e n t of Nikias. The angle of Robertson's view hides the little Temple of Athena N i k e , but i t is there, perched above its bastion and between the bastion and the Frankish Tower.

46

Today, the Beule Gate —

which chiefly serves as the exit from the Acropolis, the entrance being a little to the southwest — cannot be fully enjoyed due to the fencing, the landscaping of trees and shrubs, and the stone pathways that were designed by Dimitris P i k i o n i s .

47

U p o n entering the Beule Gate, one is confronted w i t h the Classical-era

entrance

to the Acropolis, the Propylaia

designed by the architect Mnesikles, Figure 17. M a p of Athens, show­ ing some of the more

48

and the image of antiq­

Few areas of classical archaeology have received the sus­

uity depicted that W i l l i a m James Stillman captured i n an 1869

tained attention that has been bestowed on the topography of

photograph of remarkable clarity (fig. 19). (For more on this

early Athens, and even fewer have remained so controversial.

image, see the essay by A n d r e w Szegedy-Maszak i n the present

graphical features

The bibliography on the subject is daunting, and one result of

volume, pp. 168, 173.) I n Classical times, when there was no

of the ancient city

its sheer volume is that there has been a tendency to argue by

Beule Gate, the Panathenaic Way ended i n a steep ramp that

discussed in this essay.

response to previous scholarship rather than by a more straight­

went straight up to the Propylaia gateway, its steepness created

prominent topo­

D r a w i n g by Anne Hooton.

forward assessment of the evidence i n hand. The written

by the natural contours of the hill. Stillman's photograph shows

w o r d — ancient and modern — has loomed large i n this scholar­

it all: the Propylaia, the Temple of Athena N i k e and its bastion,

ly endeavor, so much so that the material record has often been

and the M o n u m e n t of Agrippa. Indeed, the bastion and monu­

shaped by the literary testimonia, a process that can only be

ment frame the picture horizontally. W h a t the image also

described as the tyranny of the text. Yet alongside the archaeo­

reveals is something that scholars have only recently come to

logical evidence stands the visual information provided by early

learn, something that was much more clearly visible around

photographs. These contain a wealth of physical detail, much of

1869, when the image was taken: an all-but-forgotten section

which no longer survives, that has the potential to cast consid­

of the Mycenaean wall of the Acropolis.

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131


Figure 18.

J A M E S R O B E R T S O N (Scottish, 1 8 1 3 - 1 8 8 8 ) , The Beule Gate, the Propylaia, and the West Side of the 3

Acropolis, ca. 1854. Salted paper p r i n t , 25.9 x 29.1 c m (10V4 x n A 132

in.), G R I 9 2 . R . 8 4 (03.01).


Through the latest scholarly reconstruction of the west

Figure 19. W I L L I A M

STILLMAN

JAMES

(American,

terraces; it also brings the actual entrance system more i n line 50

entrance to the Mycenaean Acropolis, published i n 1999, it has

w i t h the Tiryns entrance system.

become evident that this wall was used i n multiple phases and

to the Acropolis that the Persians i n 480 B.C., after occupying

This was the very entrance

1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , Detail

the Areiopagos (see fig. 17), attempted to assail—to little effect.

fagade

that i t was more substantial than had previously been

with

assumed. The critical evidence is a line of "Cyclopean" boul­

The Athenian defense was finally breached by a few soldiers

the Temple of Victory

ders, hammer-dressed

i n typical Mycenaean fashion. These

w h o had scaled the sheer cliff on the east side, above the

and the ancient

remnants have been w o r n d o w n by the feet of millions of visi­

Sanctuary of Aglauros. Read i n this way, Herodotos's words,

tors, w i t h the result that the characteristic finish of the blocks

" i n front of the Acropolis, but i n back of the gates and the usual

can now be seen only i n raking light, preferably i n late after­

ascent," make perfect sense. So here an old photograph helps

(1870), Plate 6.

noon as the sun sets. They are, however, clearly visible at the

clarify t w o long-standing problems of Athenian topography —

Carbon p r i n t . jPGxM

very center of Stillman's photograph, skirted by the little foot­

one prehistoric, the other historic — by showing physical details

path that existed i n the 1860s. A m o n g other things, this

that are barely present today.

of The western of the Propylaia,

steps,

1869. F r o m W i l l i a m James Stillman, The Acropolis

of Athens

84.xo.766.4.7.

49

51

52

restoration makes it clear that the predecessor of the Athena Nike

bastion

was

an

integral part

of the

Mycenaean

fortification, and it avoids the necessity of restoring extramural

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133


A C U L T U R A L B I O G R A P H Y OF T H E T H E S E I O N

As M O N U M E N T S

AND

OBJECTS

are

studied

For Proust, and for most archaeologists, it is the small

and

restudied, new interpretations of the same material

portable object that looms large: In Small Things Forgotten

not only reveal a more compelling picture of the

the title of James Deetz's classic archaeology of early American

past; they also offer a sharper awareness of the preconceptions

life. This is because "objects anchor t i m e . " Architecture, how­

56

is

57

we bring to that picture and its reconstruction and (re)interpre-

ever, has the ability to crystallize both personal and collective

tation. In many ways, the physical things we study lead social

memory and to anchor time i n ways that few small objects can,

lives and can be described through quasi-biographical narra­

precisely because of its stable nature. Peoples' interactions w i t h

53

tives. The usefulness of such an approach lies both i n showing

architecture are very different from their interactions w i t h small

how objects are variously experienced and i n providing a

objects. Buildings have the ability to mold human experience,

glimpse into "the social system and collective understanding on which i t rests."

54

both through their interiors — in which people move, play out

Patterns of use and wear, when coupled w i t h

their social and ceremonial roles, and die — and through their

depositional history, have the potential to reveal ancient life-

exteriors, which form the very fabric of the built environment,

ways, to cast light on particular events and individuals, and to

particularly the cityscape.

tell many stories. The commemorative power of objects as a

To illustrate the impact of architecture on memory — its

focus of memory is indelibly conveyed by Marcel Proust i n his

role i n anchoring t i m e — I want to focus on the cultural biogra­

seven-part novel A la recherche

du temps perdu: "The past is

phy of a small building that is central to the topography of

hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intel­

ancient and modern Athens alike. I t is not only the best pre­

lect, i n some material object (in the sensation which that mate­

served of all ancient temples i n Greece but also the most com­

rial object w i l l give us) of which we have no inkling. A n d it

plete extant example of a Doric hexastyle temple. Ironically, the

depends on chance whether or not we come upon this object

identity of the deity for w h o m the temple was built remains

before we ourselves must d i e . "

55

uncertain. M o s t classical scholars k n o w the temple as the

For Proust the taste of a little piece of madeleine cake

Hephaisteion, but modern Athenians call i t the Theseion. A t

was enough to unleash waves of memory. Similarly, entire biog­

least one scholar has argued that it might be the Temple of

raphies can be brought to life by the discovery of objects,

Artemis Eukleia,

which, i n the case of archaeological objects, often reside i n

"Theseum" or as "the building that has come to be k n o w n as

museum displays or, i f less fortunate, i n storage

the Hephaisteion," more as a matter of expediency than

facilities

59

58

while others have referred to it as the

removed from daylight. Occasionally an object consigned to

belief.

storage is removed from oblivion and put on exhibit, for all to

ciously. Indeed, the entire area around the building, including

But Theseion is the name that has stuck most tena­

see and enjoy. But most objects that have been discovered are

the railway station erected at the end of the nineteenth century

publicly seen only via illustrations, be they photographs, draw­

and still i n use, is k n o w n as Theseion.

ings, paintings, or digital images. I n this way, the modern biog­

The problematic issue of the god or goddess worshiped

raphy of any archaeological artifact is very much i n the hands

in the temple is linked to the identity of the statues of the deities

of its illustrator.

that once stood on the statue base that is usually believed to have belonged to the interior of the building and about which much has been w r i t t e n ;

60

i t is usually restored to accommodate

the lost statues of Hephaistos and Athena. The base, however,

ANTIQUITY

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135


was never i n situ, and the t w o blocks of dark gray Eleusinian

second edition of Le Roy's book was published, Petros Moraites

were found reused i n the modern east wall that replaced the

set up his tripod northwest of the Theseion, notably farther

apse of the church into which the temple had been converted i n 61

late antiquity. I t is even possible that both blocks were origi­ nally from the Temple of Athena at Sounion.

62

away from it than Le Roy had stood, to shoot an image that takes i n the entire Acropolis, including the Frankish Tower, as

But whether

well as much of the Areiopagos (visible just to the right of the

Theseus, Hephaistos and Athena, or Artemis Eukleia were wor­

citadel), but not the Philopappos Monument (fig. 21). A relat­

shiped i n the little temple, study of the deposits associated w i t h

ed view shows the Theseion straight on from the west, w i t h the

its construction suggests a date i n the earlier fifth century B.C.,

Acropolis and the Areiopagos i n the right background, i n Peter

sometime not long after the Battle of Salamis, rather than later

von Hess's 1839 o i l painting depicting the Reception

in the century, as it is currently t h o u g h t .

63

Otto of Greece in Athens (fig. 2 2 ) .

of

King

66

Perched above the Classical Agora, the temple stood

O t t o (or O t h o n , to use the Greek spelling) had first vis­

amid metalworkers' workshops and other industrial establish­

ited Athens i n M a y 1833 to examine the antiquities and begin

ments. As noted, an apse was added when it was converted for

searching for a new residence. His provisional capital was at

use as a church, and the building was further modified around

N a u p l i o n on the Gulf of Argos, where he had disembarked on

64

February 6, 1833. O t t o was to make three more visits to Athens

1300, when i t was rededicated as the Church of Saint George. In The Ruins

of the Most

Beautiful

Monuments

Greece

that year. I n the autumn he entered the city by the Arch of

(1770), Julien-David Le Roy wrote that the Greeks were still

Hadrian, which had been specially adorned w i t h a wreath bear­

using i t "as a church, despite the jealousy of the Turks, w h o

ing the words, "This is Athens, the city of Theseus and of

envy them the possession of so fine a building," adding that

Hadrian, n o w of O t h o . "

Saint George "is much venerated i n A t h e n s . "

of

65

rendering of the temple — prepared

6 7

I n October 1834 the government i n

N a u p l i o n ordained that on December 13, 1834, O t t o w o u l d

Le Roy's commentary was accompanied by a highly pic­ turesque

by Jacques-

move to Athens and that the city w o u l d from that day forward be the capital of Greece.

68

Philippe Le Bas after an original by Le Roy — that makes the

As the von Hess painting shows, the orchestrated recep­

building resemble an archaeological ruin rather than a func­

tion of O t t o took place not on or near the Acropolis, as one

tioning church (fig. 20). Influenced by eighteenth-century sensi­

might have expected, but at the little temple w i t h its Church of

bilities and particularly by the w o r k of Giovanni Battista

Saint George inside. The church saw its final services on

Piranesi, Le Roy's drawings bear the mark of fantasy and lack

December 13, 1834, when a solemn Te Deum was sung to cel­

the precision of the contemporary drawings by Stuart and

ebrate the king's arrival i n the new capital. Precisely one month

Revett. Le Roy was, however, careful to place the temple i n its

earlier, on November 13, the Theseion had been decreed as the

topographical context, on top of a l o w k n o l l , the Kolonos

"Central Public Museum for Antiquities"; it w o u l d serve as the

Agoraios. Immediately to the left towers the west entrance of

first National Museum of Greece.

69

Initially, the Theseion was

the Acropolis, complete w i t h the Frankish Tower (cf. figs. 10,

used as an exhibition space. Later—at least through 1934 — it

12). Beside the Acropolis and right behind the Theseion is

was used for antiquities storage.

the rock of the Areiopagos, and at the far right stands the

136

Philopappos M o n u m e n t (cf. fig. 14). Almost a century after the

limestone that are often restored as the base for the cult statues

ANTIQUITY

DEPICTED

70


Figure 20.

J A C Q U E S - P H I L I P P E L E B A S (French, 1707-1783) after Julien-David Le Roy (French, 1 7 2 4 - 1 8 0 3 ) , View of the Temple of Theseus in Athens. Beautiful

Monuments

From Julien-David Le Roy, The Ruins of the

Most

of Greece (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2004), plate 8. 137


Figure 2 1 .

PETROS

Athenian

M O R A I T E S

Acropolis,

(Greek, ca. 1 8 3 5 - 1 9 0 5 , active Athens 1 8 6 0 S - 1 8 7 0 S ) , The Kolonos

G R I 9 2 . R . 8 4 (06.02.12). 138

Agoraios

and

the

ca. 1870. V i e w f r o m the northwest. Albumen silver print, ca. 25 x 33.5 cm (ca. 9% x 13V8 in.).


Figure 22.

PETER V O N HESS

(German, 1 7 9 2 - 1 8 7 1 ) , Reception 5

of King Otto of Greece in Athens,

13 December

1834, 1839.

1

O i l on linen, 2.48 x 4.10 m (97 /s x I 6 I / 2 in.). M u n i c h , Neue Pinakothek, inv. W A 353. Photo: Artothek/Joachim Blauel. 139


James Robertson's salted paper print of about 1853-1854

Initiated i n 1931, the excavations continued at a stagger­

shows the Theseion from the outside as a museum (fig. 23).

ing pace until being suspended i n A p r i l 1940, i n the course of

Several antiquities are visible along the south

colonnade,

the tenth season. As W o r l d War 11 spread across Europe and

including a Roman sarcophagus. I n the foreground, i n what

political conditions i n Greece quickly became less stable,

had become Theseion Square, stands a statue that is being care­

American School staff members w h o so desired were given the

fully inspected by a gentleman wearing a white lab coat. This

option of leaving "before Mediterranean waters were closed to

quintessential image of a European conservateur is counterbal­

American s h i p p i n g . " The pace and extent of the w o r k can be

73

anced by the man on the other side of the statue, dressed i n tra­

gleaned from the fact that, i n the course of the first nine sea­

ditional Hellenic costume, and by several other men wearing

sons, some t w o hundred forty-six thousand tons of earth were

fezzes; here was a classic amalgam of Greeks, Turks, and Euro­

removed from the American excavation zone.

peans i n post-War of Independence Athens. The sculpture-

Theseion and the area that was to become the west side of the

cluttered museum interior is best seen i n an albumen print by

Classical Agora looked like prior to these excavations can be

Pascal Sebah dating to about 1872-1873 (fig. 24). The photo­

glimpsed i n an albumen print by Dimitrios Constantin from

graph is labeled at bottom-left, "Tombeau de Bacchus au

about 1858 that shows the Theseion as i f floating above a sea

99

Temple de Thsee [sic],

no doubt a reference to the Roman sar­

cophagus at the right.

What the

of houses, all of which were subsequently demolished (fig. 2 5 ) .

75

I n February 1939, after spending t w o years clearing the

The early Classical temple dedicated to an unidentified

rest of the Kolonos Agoraios to bedrock, the Agora excavators

deity (or deities) that had been converted into the Church of

returned to the Theseion to remove the earth filling and

Saint George was n o w the Central Archaeological Museum

Christian burials from w i t h i n the building. Their aim was to

and, as such, indelibly linked w i t h the new life of Athens as a

study its foundations, construction filling, and any remains that

modern European city. W h a t the temple had not yet attained

might survive of an earlier sanctuary on the site. It was at this

was its status as an archaeological site. That w o u l d not happen

time that the building entered a new phase of its cultural biog­

until the early 1930s, when the American School of Classical

raphy. The excavations quickly revealed a series of post-antique

Studies at Athens began its excavations i n the Athenian Agora.

layers into which a number of Christian burials had either been

Colin Renfrew called those excavations "one of the great t r i ­

set d o w n or had formed over tombs or had been placed on top

umphs of urban archaeology of recent years, bringing to life i n

of tombs. Some of the burials are clearly visible i n an excava­

a remarkable way many aspects of the w o r l d of Classical

tion photograph of the interior of the cella of the temple taken

Athens, which had hitherto been glimpsed only i n the often

by Hermann Wagner i n 1939 (fig. 26). W i l l i a m Bell Dinsmoor,

slight and scanty passing references preserved i n the writings of

w h o published his observations on the temple, divided the buri­

the Classical authors."

71

This achievement was all the greater,

als themselves into medieval and Protestant graves. O f the for­

since, unlike other sites that had never been lost to human view,

mer, the great majority belonged to the period between 1057

the location of the Athenian Agora had long been uncertain.

and 14 5 3 .

N o t only d i d the excavations bring to light the heart of the

Tweddell, w h o died on July 25, 1799. The use of the area for

76

O f the latter, the earliest was probably that of John

Classical city, but they also represented a remarkable feat of

burials probably ceased immediately after the outbreak of the

diplomacy, involving the successful

War of Independence.

expropriation, at

the

request of the Greek government, of more than three hundred sixty individual properties.

72

77

I t is w o r t h elaborating that once the

war was over, the Theseion w o u l d have been an unlikely loca­ tion for a burial ground because of the important role it assumed i n the creation of modern Athens.

140

74

ANTIQUITY

DEPICTED


Figure 23.

J A M E S R O B E R T S O N (Scottish, 1 8 1 3 - 1 8 8 8 ) , The Theseion,

ca. 1853-1854.

View from the n o r t h . Salted paper p r i n t , 25.5 x 30.5 cm (10 x 12 in.), G R I 2 0 0 1 . R . I (b.2-1). 141


Figure 24.

P A S C A L S E B A H ( 1 8 2 3 - 1 8 8 6 , active Constantinople). Interior of the Theseion, showing the sculpture collection of the then N a t i o n a l M u s e u m of Athens, ca. 1 8 7 2 - 1 8 7 3 . A l b u m e n silver print, 26.1 x 32.7 cm (10V4 x 1278 in.), G R I 92.R.84 (04.13.04).

142


Figure 25.

DiiMiTRios

CONSTANTIN

(Greek, active 1858-1860S). The temple on Kolonos Agoraios and the west side

of the classical Athenian Agora, ca. 1858. V i e w from the southeast. A l b u m e n silver print, 26.3 x 36.8 cm 5

(io /s x 14V2 in.), G R I 92.R.84 (03.13). 143


Figure 26. HERMANN

WAGNER

(German, n.d.). Interior of the Theseion cella, view from the east, showing late burials under the floor, 1939. Courtesy Agora Excavations, American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

As a monument, the building, along w i t h Theseion Square, came to occupy a central position both physically and symbolically i n the newly created Greek capital. This is clearly depicted i n a wonderful panoramic photograph by Felix Bonfils showing Athens as i t looked around 1875 (fig. 2 7 ) .

78

seen w i t h i n the p o s t - W o r l d War n cement metropolis. Beginning w i t h von Hess's Reception

of King Otto (see

fig. 22), most representations of the Theseion bring to the fore

The

the symbolic value of the building i n terms of national identity.

Acropolis dominates the top-right corner, while Lykabettos H i l l

When combined w i t h more picturesque representations, such as

(with M o u n t Hymettos and M o u n t Pentelikon behind) takes up

figures 20 and 2 1 , these images blur the line between reality and

the upper center. Stretching out to the n o r t h of the Acropolis

the ideal, and they allow us to approach and view monuments

and to the west of Lykabettos is the city itself, and at the very

from a multiplicity of perspectives.

center of the image is-the small k n o w n as the Theseion, the Hephaisteion, or the Temple of Artemis Eukleia. Today, Athens has expanded

enormously

beyond the small confines of the nineteenth-century t o w n , yet

144

the basic topographical structure of Bonfils's image can still be

ANTIQUITY

DEPICTED


CODA: BETWEEN R E A L I T Y A N D T H E IDEAL

T i

i

E A R L Y P H O T O G R A P H I C I M A G E S of Greece were,

The landscape is "humanistic," it cannot do without human

in effect, constructed landscapes documenting the

beings. That the magic only totally unfolds when the human

nascent years of a nation that looked to and drew

element appears in mythological form is not contradictory

HE

inspiration from the past — a past that was partly imagined and

to this: the landscape especially makes the mythical element

partly physical, one that existed by virtue of stone buildings

human, it guides it from a crystal-like isolation, from the lim­

that, although decayed, had survived the ravages of time. By

itation of the inter-human, as Greek art offers it, to breathing

focusing their lenses on subjects that were, at the same time, lit­

nature in which the human being becomes totally human—in

erary topoi that had captured and entranced the western

fact: aware of its humanness.%

1

w o r l d — from Romantic poets such as Lord Byron to German, French, and British classicists — and topoi that were in their

Ruins transformed into archaeological sites provided the

splendor very much real, early photographers blurred the line

solid basis i n which myths, history, moral teachings, and values

between landscapes of reality and landscapes of myth. As

were — are — embodied: a wonderful interplay of memory,

Simon Schama has noted, landscapes of myth are not mere

imagination, words, and pictures. A n d photographers

"constructs of the imagination projected onto w o o d and water

there since the invention of photography, as they continue to

and rock"; they are physical w o o d and water and rock turned

be there,

into m y t h .

79

Part of this blurring of reality and myth was

achieved by the very "hardness and permanence of rock as a material."

80

82

were

to document a process and to construct enduring

images that are irrevocably bound w i t h expectations, reality, and the ideal.

There is no denying the sheer physicality of the

Parthenon i n Classical Athens, as in nineteenth-century and modern Athens, and i t w i l l remain forever linked w i t h the names of its creators: Pericles, Pheidias, Iktinos, Kallikrates. This interplay w i t h people — both those w h o died long ago and those, like the men in Petros Moraites's photographs, from a more recent past — makes the landscape so humanistic. As Hellmut Sichtermann put it so well:

ANTIQUITY

DEPICTED

145


146


Figure 27.

F E L I X B O N F I L S (French, 1831-1885), Panorama of Athens, ca. 1875. View showing the Acropolis at the right, Theseion Square at left, and Lykabettos H i l l in the background. Three albumen silver prints combined into a panorama. Princeton University Library, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Manuscripts Division, Brunnow Papers, Box 15, figs. 5 4 4 - 4 6 . 147


A N A M E R I C A N C N 7 7 7 A C HO P O 7 7 : W I 7 7 A M JAMES SZ77ZMAN

W

illiam James Stillman was one of those nineteenth-century figures whose industry and accomplishment continue to astonish. From extremely modest beginnings, he went on to befriend many of the era's most important intellec足 tual and artistic luminaries, with whom he maintained an extensive corre足 spondence. In addition to his myriad letters, he wrote fourteen books as well as hundreds of essays and reviews. He was at various times of his life a painter, editor, diplomat, spy, art critic, amateur archaeologist, political

commentator, and journalist. He was also an uncommonly gifted, innovative photographer

whose unquestioned masterpiece is The Acropolis of Athens (1870), an album of twenty-five full-sized prints. I begin with a biographical sketch, taking Stillman up to the time he began work on The Acropolis of Athens, both because he led a fascinating life and because it illu足 minates principal motifs that inform his art. In the main section of the essay, I argue that in the Acropolis album Stillman produced a uniquely personal fusion of subject matter, style, and sequence.

148

Andrew

Szegedy-Maszak


A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY

N J U L Y I 8 60, while on a tour i n Switzerland, John Ruskin

"amiable fanaticism, fervent w i t h o u t being uncharitable" (5).

penned one of his many letters to his friend Charles Eliot

To the modern eye, the fanaticism is certainly apparent, though

N o r t o n , professor of art history at Harvard. O f his com­

hardly amiable. Every aspect of life was hedged around w i t h a terror of committing sin. Stillman's mother, w h o m he adored,

panion o n the trip, Ruskin wrote:

constantly struggled w i t h the deepest feelings of unworthiness and guilt. To avert corruption, they kept the boy from socializ­

I have had great pleasure, and great advantage also, in Stillman s society this last two months. We are, indeed,

ing w i t h neighbor children, and his father once declared, " I

neither of us in a particularly cheerful humor, and very often,

w o u l d rather see you i n your grave than i n a dancing-school"

I think, succeed in making each other reciprocally miserable

(40). Moreover, the senior Stillman, who eked out a living w i t h

to an amazing extent; but we do each other more good than

a small mechanic's workshop i n their barn, had a violent tem­

harm—at least he does me, for he knows much just of the

per that was further fueled by his religious convictions. He took

Figure i .

part of the world of which I know nothing. He is a very

literally the corrective power ascribed to the rod and the staff.

WILLIAM

Paternal beatings were a regular response to even the smallest

STILLMAN

noble fellow—if only he could see a crow without wanting

infraction, and one thrashing was so ferocious that i t drove the

1

to shoot it to pieces.

(American,

1828-1901),

From

Untitled.

Photographic

seventeen-year-old W i l l i a m briefly to run away from home. O n

Studies by W. J.

H o w was i t that this boisterous young American —

his return, he made i t clear that he would no longer tolerate

Stillman. Part I.

Stillman was barely thirty-two at the time — had become the

such treatment, and, thanks also to his mother's intercession,

The Forest,

fellow traveler and confidant of one of most eminent English

it ceased.

authorities o n art and culture? The brief, factual answer t o the question is that N o r t o n , Ruskin, and Stillman moved i n the

(7V2

Courtesy of the

distress of his wife, " H e thought the woods and fields better places to pass the Sabbath i n than a meeting-house" (76).

to the story.

Father and son w o u l d hike together for hours through the for­ est surrounding their home, and by his o w n account Stillman

York, i n 1828, the youngest of nine children. His forebears had

became an expert amateur naturalist. He could identify virtual­

been i n America since the seventeenth century. The Puritans

ly all the plants, trees, birds, and animals he saw, and he

had expelled one of his ancestors from the Massachusetts

acquired an interest i n natural science of all kinds.

colony because of religious nonconformism. Nearer predeces­

One can see i n Stillman's relation to his parents the ori­

sors had fought i n the Revolutionary War, and Stillman wrote

gin of a number of characteristics that would manifest them­

2

associations of the war of American independence" {z).

selves throughout his adult life. He never lost his attraction to nature, which he equated w i t h a k i n d of freedom. I n reaction

Religious fervor and intense patriotism were to be a

against the bleak piety he had grown up w i t h , he embraced a

formative combination i n his life. His parents were of Yankee

skeptical, rationalist attitude toward religion and eventually

stock, and both were members of an evangelical Protestant sect,

abandoned the strict observance his parents had enforced.

the Seventh-Day Baptists, or Sabbatarians. Their belief pervad­

Despite his agnostic stance, he quoted w i t h evident agreement

ed the household and was ironically described by Stillman as

the aphorism, " N o man can escape from the environment of his

AN

AMERICAN

ON

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ACROPOLIS

print, 1 9 x 1 4 . 6 cm

father's harsh temperament was a genuine love of nature. To the

same intellectual circles, but such a dry summary barely hints at

that his parents' childhood was "surrounded by the facts and

Adirondac

Woods ( 1 8 5 9 ) . Albumen silver

Stillman found that the one mitigating feature of his

the very complex and extraordinarily interesting background W i l l i a m James Stillman was born i n Schenectady, N e w

150

JAMES

3

x 5 /4

in.).

Adirondack Museum, Blue M o u n t a i n Lake, N e w York.


early religious education" ( 9 9 - 1 0 0 ) .

3

He carried the lasting

conviction that some k i n d of divine providence steered his life. " [ I had] moreover an implicit faith i n what I considered a kind of spiritual guidance in all I d i d , " he wrote, "a delusion which at least served to keep me in absolute self-control on all circum­ stances" (207). Similar statements appear throughout his auto­ biography.

4

Another lingering effect of Stillman's early religious training was a keen interest in "spiritism," as he called it i n his autobiography. His fascination w i t h the supernatural seems incongruous, given his otherwise progressive, rationalist, and skeptical views. I n the chapter of his autobiography devoted to his research into the supernatural, he expresses only contempt for the professional mediums of his day, deriding them as selfpromoting charlatans. Nonetheless, he leaves no doubt about his conviction that some people do have the power to commu­ nicate w i t h the spirits of the dead. He recounts several sessions w i t h various clairvoyants, one of w h o m , he writes, communi­ cated w i t h a brother of his w h o had died i n a boating accident, and another w h o adopted the persona of J. M . W. Turner and revealed some esoteric details about that artist's method of 5

drawing ( 1 9 2 - 9 5 ) . In 1853, during a long period of solitude in the woods of upstate N e w York, Stillman himself heard a voice that advised h i m of the path to take when he was lost. His interest i n such arcana might easily be dismissed as a curious personal quirk, but I believe it also manifests itself in his pho­ tographs of ancient Athenian monuments. Sabbatarian

doctrine maintained that the w o r l d was

divided into the saved and the sinful, and much of Stillman's later w r i t i n g

displays an uncompromising moralism. He

implies, or even declares outright, that those w h o disagreed w i t h h i m were not merely mistaken i n their beliefs but also ignorant, devious, and malicious. His early adherence to funda­ mentalist Christianity also evolved into a strong tendency to ally himself w i t h various secular creeds, whether of politics or art, and often to adopt the role of disciple to a series of power­ ful authority figures. A m o n g the latter, Ruskin was arguably the most important.

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151


Stillman's first intellectual mentor was Dr. Eliphalet

conducted the discussion section. It was here that Stillman first

N o t t , w h o m he called "the most remarkable of all the teachers

encountered strenuous intellectual debate, w i t h no argument

I have ever k n o w n " (83). Born i n 1773 and educated at the

allowed to go unchallenged, and he found the experience exhil­

College of Rhode Island (which became Brown University), the

arating. Even though he was ambivalent about the value of his

redoubtable D r . N o t t became president of Union College i n

education at Union, his studies there had lasting effects on his

Schenectady i n 1804 and held the post until his death i n 1866.

professional life. He developed a passionate interest i n classical

Under his leadership, the college substantially expanded its cur­

archaeology, and his training w i t h N o t t presaged his vigorous

riculum, its endowment, and its student body, so that for a time

participation i n various scholarly and political controversies.

it trailed only Harvard and Yale at the pinnacle of the American

After graduation i n 1848, Stillman devoted himself to

educational hierarchy. N o t t took an intense personal interest i n

art. He had received some rudimentary instruction from an itin­

every aspect of his institution, and he attended w i t h equal care

erant British painter as well as from a local artist, w i t h w h o m

to his undergraduates. His patronage endured after they gradu­

he went hiking and sketched landscapes. Seeking more serious

ated, and many of them attained prominence i n the clergy, pro­

training, he made arrangements to study w i t h Thomas Cole, a

fessions such as law and medicine, and politics.

leading American landscape painter, but Cole died a few

Before arriving at U n i o n College, Stillman had had an

months before the lessons were to begin. Eventually, Stillman

uneven academic career, even though he was exceptionally

contacted Frederic Edwin Church, w h o was i n the early stages

bright. He had distinguished himself by learning to read — and

of an illustrious career and w o u l d go on to become one of the

to read voraciously—at a very early age, but an attack of

most renowned members of the Hudson River school of paint­

typhoid fever at age seven left h i m "a model of stupidity" (28).

ing. Himself a pupil of Cole, Church took Stillman on as his

The fever and its aftermath were the first manifestations of the

o w n first student. I n contrast to his abiding respect for Eliphalet

fragile health that w o u l d trouble Stillman for the rest of his life.

N o t t , Stillman's appraisal of Church was acerbic. Church's

After recuperating, he struggled i n the classroom for several

technique was superb, particularly i n rendering the minute

years, his only talent being an aptitude for drawing. While he

details of a view. For Stillman, however, such facility was

was i n secondary school i n N e w York City, however, his men­

superficial, empty of emotion or insight of any kind: "The prim­

tal dullness suddenly cleared, and he quickly rose to the top of

rose on a river's bank he saw w i t h a vision as clear as that of a

his class. He learned Greek, Latin, mathematics, and history

photographic lens, but i t remained to h i m a primrose and noth­

and excelled i n them all. Yet his interest i n art overrode all the

ing more to the end" (115). A t almost the same time, he first

subjects i n the formal curriculum.

encountered

Stillman initially resisted the whole idea of going to col­ lege because he was so intent on becoming a professional

and

Ruskin's multivolume w o r k Modern

"received

from

it a

stimulus

to

nature

Painters worship

. . . which made ineffaceable the confusion i n my mind between

painter. His father was equally determined that W i l l i a m should

nature and art" (116). These t w o remarks, though both some­

shun college to join the family business as an assistant i n the

what disparaging, exemplify much of Stillman's aesthetic phi­

workshop. Once again M r s . Stillman exercised her formidable

losophy. As he w o u l d show i n his photographs, he always

influence, w i t h the result that W i l l i a m matriculated at U n i o n .

6

retained his fascination w i t h nature and the genre of landscape,

His academic skills were so good that he skipped most of the

to the virtual exclusion of other subjects, such as portraits

first-year curriculum, meanwhile earning some money as a

and still-lifes. I n all the visual arts, which he later discussed

Latin tutor, and then entered as a sophomore. He studied the

in his copious critical writings, he prized a combination of

traditional liberal arts, which were presented i n the customary

precise depiction w i t h personal interpretation, or even private

manner of memorization and repetition, "little more than par­

symbolism.

rot learning" (95), until his senior year, when Dr. N o t t himself

152

7

AN

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Having decided to abandon his apprenticeship w i t h

weeks wandering aimlessly around the city, until his boot heels

Church, Stillman nonetheless kept painting on his o w n . I n the

wore so perilously thin that he could no longer carry the con­

winter of 1850, he spent a small windfall from the sale of one

cealed document in safety. One evening, fearing he was about

of his pictures to book passage on a boat to England. O n his

to be arrested by the omnipresent secret police, he pulled off the

arrival, he set about meeting some of the artists whose w o r k he

boots and flung them into the Danube, thereby closing his

had read about, and he befriended a dealer, Thomas Griffith,

career i n espionage.

8

who specialized i n the paintings of Turner. As happened so

10

The whole episode has more the tone of

comic opera than of cloak and dagger, yet it also illustrates the

often in Stillman's life, the combination of his o w n self-

extent to which Stillman responded to charismatic, heroic

confidence and charm w i t h sheer good l u c k — o r , as he w o u l d

figures, all the more when, like Kossuth, they appealed to his

have i t , Providence—yielded exceptional results. Ruskin, w h o

democratic politics and his sympathy for the underdog.

had made his mark as Turner's great champion, stopped by the

Painting, not spying, was Stillman's metier, and he

gallery one day; Griffith introduced h i m to Stillman, w h o m he

stayed i n Europe to study i n Paris. As he had i n London, he

had alerted to the great man's impending visit. A t this point i n

made the acquaintance of some of the most important figures i n

his autobiography Stillman is frustratingly mute about the

the art w o r l d , such as Eugene Delacroix, Jean-Leon Gerome,

course of his acquaintance w i t h Ruskin, mentioning only that

and Jean-Francois M i l l e t , and he studied w i t h Adolphe Yvon. I n

the critic invited h i m to his father's house, to see the family's art

addition, he had a special attachment to Theodore Rousseau,

collection, and to his o w n home i n London, where Stillman met

w i t h w h o m he studied and w h o m he declared to be the greatest

several of the Ruskins' artist friends.

of French landscape painters. Prefiguring some of his o w n later

Stillman's career i n art underwent a brief interruption

photographic w o r k , Stillman praised Rousseau's dedication to

after his return to America i n 1851. That same year, the

one specific genre: " [ H e ] concentrated all his feelings and labor

Hungarian patriot Lajos Kossuth was touring the United States

on what he used to call sujets intimes, the picturesque nooks of

to raise support for his project of freeing Hungary from

landscape one can always find i n a highly cultivated country,

Hapsburg domination, drawing large and highly enthusiastic

where nature is tamed to an intimacy w i t h the domestic spirit"

crowds wherever he went.

9

Inspired by his fiery oratory,

(167-68).

11

Stillman agreed to serve as a secret agent i n the Hungarian

O n returning to America, Stillman first passed several

cause. The mission was nothing less than to recover the

months i n his beloved Adirondack wilderness, painting and liv­

Hungarian royal jewels, including the famous crown of Saint

ing almost completely alone.

Stephen, which Kossuth had buried in a secret location after the

spiritual visitation mentioned above, when a mysterious voice

unsuccessful

Stillman

gave h i m directions. His stay seems to have functioned as a kind

received a section of a message i n complex code that he was to

of rite of passage that left h i m prepared for the period of intense

deliver to another plotter i n Budapest. He ordered a new pair of

activity that followed. He moved back to N e w York City i n

boots, one of which had a special hollow heel i n which to carry

1854 and met W i l l i a m Cullen Bryant, famous both as a poet

Hungarian uprising of 1 8 4 8 - 1 8 4 9 .

the cipher.

12

It was there he experienced the

and as editor of the city's daily Evening

Post. Bryant hired h i m

Unfortunately, his tradecraft was not of the highest

to write on art for the newspaper; i n a typical aside i n his auto­

order. Reaching Budapest, he took a carriage directly to the

biography, Stillman deplores "the general incompetence of the

apartment house where his contact lived. I n fact, the man was

newspaper critics of that day" (217). After a brief stint as art

hiding from the police, a detail Kossuth had failed to mention.

critic at the Post, he formed a partnership w i t h John D u r a n d ,

When Stillman asked for h i m by name, the porter, worried that

son of the painter Asher B. D u r a n d , w h o was then serving as

Stillman's carriage driver was a spy, loudly denied that any such

president of the National Academy of Design. Intending to raise

person was resident in the building. Stillman spent the next

the general level of aesthetic discourse and to remedy the lack

AN

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153


of any "publication i n America devoted to the interests of art" (217), they founded a weekly journal they called the

Crayon.

Although it lasted for only a few years, the Crayon was

in A r t , " "Beauty and Its Enemies," "The Creed of A r t , " "The Revelation of A r t " — c o n v e y the sense of mission he brought to the undertaking.

He was convinced, w i t h a fervor that now

serious

seems quite touching, both that A r t has transcendent impor­

American journal devoted to art and art criticism. W i t h

tance i n human affairs and that his journal had the power to

Stillman as its editor and principal writer, its purpose was

elevate the quality of aesthetic discourse i n America.

significant on a number of levels. I t was the first

avowedly pedagogical. The announcement that preceded its

There are a few core tenets to which Stillman keeps

premiere issue, which appeared i n January 1855, declared, " A n

returning. He insists on rigorous training, beginning at an early

effort has been organized, having for its object the education of

age, so that no matter what medium nascent artists may choose,

our countrymen to the perception and enjoyment of beauty."

they w i l l command all the necessary technical skills. As part of

The theme of public edification was frequently repeated there­

such training, they are allowed, even encouraged, to copy O l d

after, as were injunctions to learn from Nature, for another cen­

Masters. O n reaching maturity, however, they must stop copy­

tral part of the Crayon's

purpose was to disseminate Ruskin's

ing and find subjects i n contemporary life to which they have

The epigraph for the first issue came from

some personal connection and can bring an individual interpre­

Painters: "Whence, i n fine, looking to the whole king­

tation. Fidelity to Nature, of course, is of paramount impor­

philosophy of a r t . Modern

13

dom of organic nature, we find that our full receiving of its

tance (though it is difficult to see how this applies to music).

beauty depends first on the sensibility and then on the accu­

The list could be extended, but underlying all the injunctions

racy and touchstone faithfulness of the heart i n its moral

and instructions is a demand that is fundamentally moral: the

judgments." Ruskin regularly supplied essays drawn from his

artist must always be honest. To outline Stillman's principles so

lectures and answers to queries from readers. Thanks i n large

briefly is to r u n the risk of parody. I t is clear, however, that he

measure to Stillman's uncommon gift for cultivating friend­

had successfully identified and addressed an audience of his

ships, other eminent artists and writers, both American and

contemporaries, because the Crayon

European, joined Ruskin on the roster of contributors.

14

soon w o n a respectable

number of subscribers and some popular recognition.

Stillman threw himself into this new project w i t h his

17

With

the third volume (1856)—each representing six months' w o r t h

usual intensity. By his o w n account, he wrote well over half

of issues — the publication schedule shifted from weekly to

the content of each week's issue. Whether i n editorials, book

monthly, but the ongoing demands of w r i t i n g , editing, and sell­

reviews, or casual commentary, his earnestness and passion

ing advertising space finally took their t o l l .

18

Once again,

pervade the journal. W o r k i n g on Ruskin's principles, he was

Stillman fell victim to some form of nervous exhaustion. He

attempting to frame something like a unified-field theory of A r t

transferred sole management

(always capitalized) that could provide common criteria for

Crayon lasted another three years.

assessing different aesthetic media. The aim is Utopian and the

to Durand, under w h o m the

It is difficult to gauge the extent to which the journaK

tone evangelical: "We think that pictorial A r t is fully as emo­

influenced the course of American art, but i t certainly served to

tional as musical A r t , and that though the workings of the heart

make Ruskinian principles more familiar to the public, and it

in one race of genius give rise to different manifestations . . . the

confirmed Stillman's nickname "the American Pre-Raphaelite"

spiritual endowments Crayon

are, nevertheless,

the same."

15

The

(141).

19

Looking back almost four decades later, he grew nos­

reflected Stillman's capacious view of A r t i n offering

talgic. " I have had a good deal of hard w o r k and roughing i t

essays on topics as varied as literature, music, theater, architec­

since," he wrote, "but I have never worked harder, or enjoyed

ture, and the still young medium of photography. Week after

my w o r k more, than the eighteen months that gave life to

week, he delivered the substantial lead essays. Their resonant

The

t i t l e s — " D u t y i n A r t , " " C o m m o n Sense i n A r t , " "Individuality

154

16

AN

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20

Crayon."


One of the poets Stillman had published was James

passage of the autobiography he devotes only a single sentence

Russell Lowell, who became a close friend and through w h o m

to Laura, w h o m he has never even mentioned, before launching

Stillman gained entry into the circle of eminent intellectuals liv­

into a lengthy account of another meeting of the Adirondac

21

ing in Boston and Cambridge. A bare catalogue of their names

Club at which the members decided to buy a large tract of land

serves to evoke the mid-nineteenth-century American enlighten­

in the N e w York wilds. As agent for the transaction, he

ment. I n addition to Lowell, the group included the natural sci­

returned to the upstate woods that winter and acquired a

entist Louis Agassiz, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell

22,500-acre tract for $600. Unfortunately, he also contracted

Holmes, Sr., Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Charles Eliot

what turned out to be a severe case of pneumonia and went

They invited Stillman to their discussion group,

south to Florida to recuperate. While there he learned the prac­

k n o w n as the Saturday Club, and he enlisted several of them to

tice of photography, which entailed "a rude, inefficient and

write occasional pieces for the Crayon. To reciprocate their gen­

cumbersome apparatus and process for field w o r k , of which

Norton.

22

erosity, he organized a couple of expeditions to the wilderness

few amateurs today can conceive the inconveniences" (283).

of upstate N e w York. The Saturday Club participants, includ­

This laconic dismissal of the inconveniences is almost all he says

ing Agassiz, Emerson, and Lowell, thereupon dubbed them­

on the subject of his first attempts. We have no further informa­

selves "The Adirondac Club."

tion about what he learned or from w h o m , and no examples

Their most memorable outing took place i n late summer

of his earliest w o r k survive. He had, however, published articles

of 1858. W i t h Stillman as the organizing spirit and chief guide,

in the Crayon

they established for themselves "The Philosophers' Camp" i n

responded to his insistence on utter precision in the depiction

the woods near Follansbee Pond, an area that was then

of nature.

unspoiled and virtually trackless.

23

They spent their days hunt­

approving of photography, for it uniquely

26

After regaining his health, he organized and presided

ing and fishing, hiking, and swimming, while their evenings

over a visit by his Cambridge friends to their new property i n

were given over to serious conversations on all manner of sub­

the Adirondacks. Later in 1859, he published a small volume

jects. Emerson wrote a long poem, "The Adirondacs," to com­

entitled Photographic

memorate the event; in i t he extols "Stillman, our guides' guide,

Forest, Adirondac

and Commodore, / Crusoe, Crusader, Pius Aeneas."

24

Studies by W. J . Stillman. 27

Woods.

Part 1. The

Dedicated "by permission" to the

Still­

Adirondac Club, it consists of twelve plates (original albumen

man's own account of the trip gives a vivid sense of the cam­

prints), almost all of which are tightly cropped studies of trees

araderie the men enjoyed. He also provides largely adulatory

and vegetation. I f one is to be candid, these studies are lovely

but illuminating portraits of Agassiz, Emerson, and Lowell.

but unexceptional, the w o r k of a gifted newcomer to photogra­

Diverse as their talents

and personalities were, Stillman

phy w h o was discovering its capacity to isolate and distill its

nonetheless ascribes to them some salient resemblances: a

subjects. Their interest stems from their relation to Stillman's

capacity for intensive w o r k , single-minded integrity or "devo­

w r i t i n g and to his later photographs. I n their attention to the

tion to the t r u t h " (251), and the ability to make even subtle and

minute details of bark and leaves, his pictures hew to Ruskinian

complicated ideas accessible to more than a small band of initi­

principles, while they also show Stillman's fascination w i t h

ates. It is not difficult to see in Stillman's admiration of such men an idealized model of his o w n character.

25

After three weeks most of the party went back to

nature and especially w i t h the visual effects created by sunlight, here falling through a canopy of branches (fig. 1). A n anony­ mous reviewer i n the Atlantic was delighted:

Cambridge, but Stillman stayed behind, painting in solitude until the weather grew too cold. When he returned to Boston,

We call the attention of our readers to a series of twelve pho­

he became engaged to Laura M a c k , daughter of a physician

tographic views of forest and lake scenery published by Mr.

who had been his landlord in Cambridge. Typically, in this

} . W. Black, Boston, from negatives taken by Mr. Stillman in

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155


Figure 2.

W I L L I A M J A M E S S T I L L M A N (American, 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , Tile roof, Rome, ca. 1 8 6 1 . Albumen silver print, 1 5 . 9 x 2 4 . 1 cm {6V4 x 9V2 in.). Courtesy of the W . J. Stillman Collection, Schaffer Library, U n i o n College, Schenectady, N e w York.

156


the Adirondack country. The points of view are chosen with

negative aftermath was more far-reaching. Stillman had lost

the fine feeling of an artist, and the tangled profusion and

confidence in his ability to paint and gradually gave it up: "When I was free to return w i t h undivided attention to my

grace of the forest, with the moment's whim of sunfleck and

painting, my enthusiasm

28

shadow, are given with exquisite delicacy.

had cooled, and human

interests

claimed and kept me. Ruskin had dragged me from my old N o t surprisingly, the photographs show a close affinity w i t h the landscapes Stillman painted in the same region.

29

The

methods and given me none to replace them" (320). The episode exemplifies the volatile combination of reverence and

inclusion of "Part i " in the title indicates that he planned to pro­

rebellion that characterized his attitude toward Ruskin. The

duce additional fascicles, but the project ended there. He had,

relationship between the t w o men was too asymmetrical, as of

however, initiated a new stage in his artistic life, and he w o u l d

acolyte to hero, to allow for a comfortable exchange of views.

maintain a serious attachment to photography for at least the

We can see Stillman repeating the process that had broken h i m away from his youthful religious training. Although he came to

next thirty years. Despite his engagement to Laura M a c k , Stillman was unable to settle down, and he decided to go back to England. He was

O n leaving Switzerland, Stillman went to Paris, where

Raphaelites — the critic W i l l i a m Michael Rossetti had been

he stayed for several months until a desperate message from his

London correspondent for the Crayon—and

now his links to

fiancee's father — saying that Stillman's long absence had left

the group grew even stronger, as he became a companion to

Laura near a breakdown — recalled h i m to America. He and

30

on good terms w i t h

the English

doned his commitment to Ruskin's aesthetic principles.

Pre-

Ruskin.

already

reject Ruskin's all-encompassing authority, he never fully aban­

I n i 8 6 0 the t w o embarked on the tour of Switzerland

Laura were married on November 19, i 8 6 0 , t w o days after his

mentioned at the beginning of this essay. Each professed strong

arrival, and shortly thereafter they went to France. Their stay

devotion to the other, w i t h Ruskin citing his "great pleasure

was pleasant, almost idyllic, until the outbreak of the Civil War

and great advantage also in Stillman's society"

31

and Stillman

in A p r i l 18 6 1 . The Stillmans rushed back from Europe, and

extolling Ruskin's brilliance, warmth, and generosity: " M o r e

Laura moved in w i t h his parents. None of Laura's correspon­

princely hospitality than his no man ever received, or more

dence survives, but one can imagine the distress this young

kindly companionship" (308).

w o m a n must have felt at all the disruption i n her life. Stillman

Such reciprocal admiration, however, was not enough to

intended to enlist in the Union army but was disqualified by his

prevent frequent arguments. Their heated disputes on subjects

physical infirmities. Still eager to perform some kind of public

such as religion seem to have been friendly sparring, but even­

service, he prevailed on his old teacher Dr. N o t t . Due to Nott's

tually they had a serious falling-out. The precipitating cause, of

intercession w i t h the Secretary of State, W i l l i a m H . Seward,

course, was A r t . As he had once before, Ruskin harshly criti­

Stillman obtained the position of American consul i n R o m e .

cized one of Stillman's paintings. The shock inflicted by this

His career as diplomat had begun.

33

reaction was amplified by the fact that this was the second time

A t that time the foreign service was still the preserve of

he had experienced such blunt disapproval from one of the

the well-to-do, and Stillman eked out a precarious living. He

mentors he most admired. Stillman cut the offending picture

received no regular salary and now had to support not only

into pieces, burned the scraps, and then succumbed to a case of hysterical blindness.

32

himself but also his family at home, for Laura had given birth

He soon recovered his sight, and the per­

to Russie. He was entitled to charge fees for acting as a notary

sonal breach eventually healed. He continued to affirm his

public and issuing passports and bills of lading, but the turmoil

unqualified respect and affection for the critic, w h o m he chose

in the United States reduced the number of Americans requir­

as godfather

and eponym for his first son, John Ruskin

ing his services. Moreover, Italy in 1861 was also unsettled,

Stillman, w h o was born in 1862 and nicknamed Russie. The

nearing the end of the second stage of the Risorgimento, the

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157


revolutionary movement that had begun i n 1815 w i t h the aim

ruggedness of a cottage roof possesses something of a mountain

of establishing a united secular state, free of foreign and eccle­

aspect, not belonging to the cottage as such."

siastical domination. Despite his admiration for Pope Pius i x ,

Stillman resumed his diplomatic career w i t h a transfer

w h o had allied himself w i t h the forces of reaction, Stillman

to the American consulate on Crete. Unlike mainland Greece,

clearly took the side of the Risorgimento and its charismatic

which had w o n independence i n 1832, Crete was still part of

34

leader, Giuseppe G a r i b a l d i . His involvement w i t h actual pol­

the O t t o m a n Empire. Stillman expresses undisguised contempt

itics, however, was minimal and d i d not go much beyond some

for the Turkish governor of the island, Ismael Pasha, dismissing

minor social skirmishing w i t h American residents of Rome w h o

h i m as "a renegade G r e e k . . . an unscrupulous scoundrel, w h o

were Confederate sympathizers.

35

had grafted on his Greek duplicity all the worst traits of the

He sailed back to America to collect Laura and Russie.

T u r k " (377). I n terms of official duties, there were almost no

Shortly after they arrived back i n Rome, a nasty bout of

American citizens w h o needed Stillman's attention, and he

bureaucratic infighting forced Stillman out of his consulship;

describes himself as "having no occupation but archaeological

despite an earlier threat to resign, he is somewhat ambiguous i n

research and photography" (380). The photographs are pre­

his autobiography about whether he quit or was dismissed. His

dominantly views of the coastline and rugged mountain scenery

new freedom, combined w i t h the ambience of the ancient city,

(fig. 3 ) . The situation grew more perilous, however, when the

38

reawakened his interest i n painting. "Rome was given up to art

Cretans began a rebellion against the Ottomans. The account of

and religion," he observes, " i t was still decaying, picturesque,

the ultimately unsuccessful

pathetic and majestic" (340). By selling a few pictures and

takes up three long chapters that begin the second volume of the

doing some journalism, he managed to provide for his family.

autobiography; Stillman is considerably more interested i n the

Cretan uprising of 1865-1869

He also continued the practice of photography, having acquired

minutiae of political maneuvering than i n describing his o w n

a state-of-the-art camera from an itinerant photographer w h o

circumstances.

had decided to abandon the profession.

39

One learns only later and i n passing that he

and Laura n o w had t w o more children. Possible jeopardy to his

36

For the most part, his photographic views of Rome, like

family did not prevent h i m from becoming one of the most

his nature studies i n the Adirondacks, are well done, and they

ardent champions of the insurrection, organizing foreign assis­

show an increasingly sure command of the medium. A close-up

tance and trying to rally support from the American govern­

of a tile roof, for example, is documentary i n the best sense of

ment. After t w o years of such activity, he writes, " I had become

the term (fig. 2). I t depicts a mode of construction that is typi­

the recognized official protector of the Cretans" (417). As he

cal of the Mediterranean, therefore unusual and attractive to

had w i t h Kossuth and the Hungarians, or Garibaldi and the

American eyes, and the point of view is one that w o u l d be

Italians, Stillman adopted the cause of a national liberation

unavailable to most casual visitors. The triangular composition

movement. O n Crete, however, his democratic sympathies led

places the lower fore-edge of the roof directly at the base of the

h i m to play a much more active role than he had before, and

frame, so that the roof and its single dormer and the adjacent

the consequences were considerably more serious. By 1868 his

walls become almost abstract geometric shapes. While com­

intervention had so irritated the Ottoman regime that he was i n

pletely factual, the photograph is also an elegant study i n form

real danger of assassination

and texture. I n addition, although i t may be complete coinci­

November of that year, he and his family made their way

dence, a cottage roof is the subject Ruskin used i n

to Athens.

Painters

Modern

to illustrate his concept of the picturesque (of which

more below): "The essence of picturesque character has been already defined to be a sublimity not inherent i n the nature of the thing, but caused by something external to i t ; as the

158

37

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and had to flee the island. I n


Figure 3.

W I L L I A M J A M E S S T I L L M A N (American, 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , he grand Langon, Crete (Therissos Gorge, u

Chania), 1 8 6 5 - 1 8 6 8 . Albumen silver print, 18.1 x 22.1 cm (yVs x 8 / i 6 in.), J P G M 84.xo.766.7.19. 159


One can scarcely imagine the desperate straits i n which 40

Stillman found himself. His long-suffering wife, w h o had been prone to depression, gave i n to "profound melancholy which

buildings appear to taper radically toward the top or even to be

became insanity accompanied

from

toppling backward. Despite his crushing sorrow, he could still

which she sought refuge i n a voluntary death" (455). N o t only

be acerbic about his motives. His old didactic impulse, w i t h

did her suicide leave h i m alone w i t h t w o little girls, the younger

more than a hint of his occasional disdain for the Greeks, sur­

only four, but also, his beloved son, Russie, started showing

faces i n his declaration that " [the ruins] had never been treated

symptoms of a debilitating illness that w o u l d ultimately prove

intelligently by the local photographers" ( 4 5 4 ) .

by religious delusions

41

I n a January

fatal. What is more, the loss of his position left Stillman w i t h ­

22, 1869, letter to his old friend W i l l i a m Michael Rossetti,

out even the meager income the consulship had provided, and

Stillman alludes briefly to his displacement but adopts a deter­

money that had been promised by the Cretan Committee of

minedly cheerful tone: " I am, i n fine weather, amusing myself

America failed to materialize. A t such an utterly wretched time i n his life, he turned to photography for solace: " I was myself nearly prostrated men­ tally and physically, and unfit for anything but my photogra­ p h y " (457). Stillman chose for his subject the monuments on the Acropolis, among the most famous — and most pho­ tographed—ruins i n the w o r l d . I n terms of equipment, he owned "everything necessary to correct architectural w o r k "

160

(454), by which he meant cameras that could correct the con­ vergence of vertical elements, the optical distortion that makes

AN

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by taking a series of photos of the Acropolis; not only pic­ turesque, but to show the technical characteristics of Greek architecture. I t w i l l comprise about twenty small v i e w s . "

42


T H E A C R O P O L I S OF A T H E N S

I N 1870

THE LONDON

F I R M of F. S. Ellis published a

folio-sized volume of twenty-five views by Stillman (along I w i t h one small plate on the title page); the full-sized images, printed by the Autotype Company of L o n d o n , all measure approximately 18 x 23 cm (7 x 9 in.), and each of them appears alone on the right-hand page, accompanied by a brief descriptive comment by Stillman on the facing page. titled this publication The Acropolis Picturesquely

and Architecturally

in

of Athens:

43

He

Illustrated

Photography.

Before considering the photographs, we may note that the paired adverbs i n the title are significant.

44

Picturesquely

has a particular set of associations linked w i t h Stillman's aes­ thetic philosophy, emphasizing the combination of the inherent beauty of a scene w i t h the artist's interpretation of that scene. Ruskin's influence remains palpable here as well, for he was much concerned w i t h the picturesque, and his definition under­ went a considerable e v o l u t i o n . Architecture

45

I n The Seven

Lamps

of

(1849), Ruskin lists some characteristics of the

picturesque: "angular and broken lines, vigorous oppositions of light and shadow, and grave, deep, or boldly color."

46

contrasted

He goes on to observe, "The picturesque is therefore

sought i n ruin, and supposed to consist i n decay." fourth and final volume of Modern

47

I n the

Painters (1856), he enunci­

ates a distinction between the "lower picturesque" and the "noble picturesque." The lower form is characterized by a cool, detached—Ruskin uses "heartless"—appreciation of a scene, no matter h o w much pain i t might i m p l y .

48

A n example w o u l d

be a picture of a peasant's cottage, perhaps visually appealing i n its dilapidation but evincing a life of extreme hardship and poverty. The noble picturesque, on the other hand, is somewhat more nebulous. I t derives its elevated status from

artists'

breadth of sympathy, a term that carries unmistakable religious overtones, and their comprehension of the larger implications of what they are trying to depict. Stillman was still strongly under Ruskin's spell, and i n the title he chose for his folio, as well as i n its subject matter and style, he was declaring his alle­ giance to the noble picturesque.

162

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architec­

The opening series of Stillman's album, as Ehrenkranz

turally, is almost equally ramified, i n that it reflects his insis­

notes, incorporates views from the four cardinal points of the

tence on precise description. As he remarked i n the letter to

compass. The Acropolis does have pride of place, not only

The second descriptive term i n Stillman's title,

Rossetti, he wanted "to show the technical characteristics of

because it is his main subject but also because of the topograph­

Greek architecture." I n a brief preface to the plates, he strikes

ical facts: the plateau rises more than five hundred feet (some

a similar note of near-scientific accuracy and adherence to the

156 meters) above the rest of the c i t y .

objective facts: "The negatives

The city's history

following

includes the Periclean period and Classical glory, but of course

Autotypes are printed have been, w i t h one exception, left

it did not end there. Athens also shows significant traces of

untouched, that nothing should injure the outlines, or diminish

Roman, Byzantine, medieval, and Ottoman influence, and i n

from which the

The negatives are all

1835 it became the capital of the independent Greek nation.

produced w i t h Dallmeyer's rectilinear lenses, and the facades,

The "local photographers" Stillman disparages, along w i t h

as far as practicable, photographed from points exactly equidis­

most of their foreign colleagues, customarily tried to eliminate

tant from the extremities." Stillman's double claim to seek sym­

from their Acropolis pictures as much of the modern city as

metry i n the views and to avoid retouching the negatives —

they c o u l d . The first plate i n The Acropolis

although he does not always adhere to i t i n practice — is meant

of the Acropolis from the Musaeum H i l l " (fig. 4), seems to

to

adhere to this convention, w i t h a small cluster of contemporary

the architectural accuracy, of the V i e w s .

49

evince an ostensibly disinterested, objective

approach.

53

of Athens,

"View

Although the additional technical detail about optics might

buildings barely visible at the base of the Acropolis. A t the same

puzzle some readers, i t indicates that he was making use of the

time, however, Stillman's purpose, like his picture, is radically

latest technology, for John Henry Dallmeyer had introduced his

different from the standard view. The fact that this image looks

new, uniquely distortion-free lens only three years earlier, i n 1866.

50

As we shall see, Stillman was also conversant w i t h the

out from the H i l l of the Muses is, as I have noted elsewhere, a reminder that the picture both records and springs from artistic 54

most recent scholarship about construction techniques that the

inspiration.

ancient Greeks had used.

nature and thus an equally detailed concentration on all the

Ruskin's principles dictated a complete fidelity to

Anne Ehrenkranz, w h o i n 1988 organized a fine exhibi­

planes w i t h i n a picture. I n all the long views, Stillman makes

tion of Stillman's w o r k and wrote much of its accompanying

full use of the large glass-plate negative i n order to give equal

catalogue, provides a concise and useful outline of the contents:

emphasis to foreground, middle distance, and background.

"five views circling the Acropolis from

different compass

This first photograph i n the folio exemplifies such pictorial

points, three [actually t w o ] of the Propylaia, one of the Temple

practice, as the craggy rocks i n the right foreground anchor the

of Athena N i k e , ten of the Parthenon, five of the Erechtheion;

composition. We viewers are not i n a fantasy realm of antique

and t w o of sculpture, a fragment of the Parthenon frieze and a

splendor but i n the real w o r l d , which has real boulders.

figure from the N i k e parapet."

164

52

51

I n other words, the pictures

Indeed, many of Stillman's photographs emphasize the

can be seen as spiraling i n on the Acropolis, beginning w i t h dis­

actuality of Athens both as a community w i t h i n a natural land­

tant views to establish its location and scale and then moving i n

scape and as a cultural product of historical development. We

for more detailed studies of its major monuments, and conclud­

may t u r n again to Ruskin, w h o declares that any ancient ruin

ing w i t h t w o close-up details of the art w i t h which i t was

in a European city has a special relation to time: "[T]he build­

adorned. M o r e abstractly, and more speculatively, I believe that

ings of yesterday nestle about i t , and fit their new stones into

Stillman crafted the sequence of photographs as a double nar­

its rents, and tremble i n sympathy as it trembles. . . . But all is

rative, which not only replicates the experience of the typical

continuous; and the words 'from generation to generation'

visitor but also portrays the Acropolis allegorically as a symbol

understandable there."

of liberty.

tional change, Stillman does not efface signs of post-Classical

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55

Acknowledging the fact of genera­


Figure 4.

W I L L I A M J A M E S S T I L L M A N (American, 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , View of the Acropolis From The Acropolis

from the Musaeum 5

Hill,

1869.

l

of Athens (1870), Plate 1. Carbon print, 18.6 x 23.5 cm (7 /i6 x y A in.), J P G M 84. x o . 766.4.2. 165


Figure 5.

W I L L I A M J A M E S S T I L L M A N (American, 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , The Acropolis From The Acropolis

166

with the Theatre of Bacchus, 1 8 6 9 .

of Athens ( 1 8 7 0 ) , Plate 2 . Carbon print, 1 9 . 1 x 2 3 . 7 cm ( 7 V 2 x 9 / i 6 in.), J P G M 8 4 . x o . 7 6 6 . 4 . 3 . 5


development around the Acropolis. His caption for Plate 3

instead of a head. The ancient site is now occupied not by the

reads, "View of the Acropolis from the north, w i t h the Turkish

crowds of Athenian citizens w h o came to participate i n the

t o w n at the foot of the h i l l . " The information seems com­

great festivals i n honor of Dionysos but by their spirits, embod­

pletely uninflected, yet for the nineteenth-century viewer the

ied in a battered statue and i n the small figurative plaque placed

presence of the Turkish settlement could only recall the Greeks'

at its foot. (A similar plaque appears later, i n Plate 17; see fig.

successful struggle for independence. I n his popular nineteenth-

15.) Given Stillman's lively belief i n spiritism, it is not unlikely

century

that he saw, and wished to present, the outdoor theater as

guidebook,

Historical,

Greece:

Pictorial,

Descriptive,

and

Christopher Wordsworth makes the connection

inhabited by the phantom presence of the ancient Athenians.

explicit. He describes the actions of Thrasyboulos, w h o led a

During a clandestine visit to the Parthenon on a moon­

small band of democratic partisans i n their ultimately success­

lit night, M a r k Twain, too, indulged the same dream, w i t h

ful struggle against the oligarchs, the so-called Thirty Tyrants,

much less than his customary irony: "The place seemed alive

w h o m the Spartans had installed as rulers of Athens i n 403 B.C.

w i t h ghosts. I half expected to see the Athenian heroes of twen­

Wordsworth imagines Thrasyboulos and his troops gazing on

ty centuries ago glide out of the shadows and steal into the old

the Athenian landscape from the fortress called Phyle, about ten

temple they knew so well and regarded w i t h such boundless

miles away: "[From there] the eye enjoys a magnificent prospect

pride."

of the plain and Citadel of Athens . . . objects which doubtless

homely shed i n the orchestra and the dirt dumped below the

inspired Thrasyboulos and his followers w i t h patriotism and

parapet by the Athens Archaeological Society—both of which

57

A t the same time, however, when Stillman shows the

courage, and stimulated them w i t h an enthusiastic desire to lib­

are present i n other photographs from the same period — he is

erate their country from the unworthy bondage i n which it was

providing signs of modern life, the ongoing archaeological cam­

enthralled."

56

Clearly, Wordsworth is drawing a parallel w i t h

paigns on and around the A c r o p o l i s .

58

the much more recent Greek War of Independence; i n both

Also included i n the opening set of photographs are

struggles, and on to Wordsworth and his contemporaries, the

reminders that the rural area surrounding the city retains its

Acropolis was simultaneously a solid physical plateau and a

singular importance for the life of the community. I n ancient

metaphorical embodiment of liberty.

Athens, the polis comprised both urban center and agricultural

One might expect that the next view w o u l d be taken

hinterland, and so for Stillman, "The Acropolis from the hill

from either the east or west. Instead, illustrating Stillman's

above the Ilissus, looking north-west" (Plate 4; fig. 6) has as its

dynamic conception of his w o r k , the second

plate—"The

principal pictorial element a w i n d m i l l , to remind the viewer

Acropolis w i t h the Theatre of Bacchus" (fig. 5)—brings the

that the city still depended on the countryside for its suste­

viewer closer, into the Theater of Dionysos on the South Slope.

nance.

Stillman includes a cornice of the Parthenon, barely visible

the juxtaposition of a humble modern structure w i t h a site of

59

Like the workmen's shed i n the Theater of Dionysos,

above the r i m of the plateau. This was the site of the dramatic

ancient greatness exemplifies the picturesque quality to which

competitions at which Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides, and

Stillman alludes i n the album's title. There is no trace of conde­

Sophokles presented their plays. The juxtaposition of theater

scension here. This is not an image that rehearses the tired

and temple generates a subtle allusion to the link between

lament about the decline from ancient grandeur to modern

ancient democracy and the artistic achievement, both architec­

squalor. Instead, Stillman makes the point that both Acropolis

tural and literary, to which it gave rise. The fragmentary statue

and w i n d m i l l are constitutive elements of Greek reality, and he

in the right foreground lends a note of poignant humor.

presents them as equivalent i n terms of size and placement w i t h ­

Stillman has placed it there to substitute for a living model, to

in the frame. The natural landscape likewise receives careful

serve as a figure in the landscape, but it has a truncated column

attention. Once again, i n accordance w i t h Ruskinian tenets, the

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167


rock formation in the near lower right-hand corner is rendered

The next three pictures replicate the traveler's approach

in sharp focus, and Stillman has cropped the image so that the

to the summit of the Acropolis. Before the citizens of the

outline of the rock resembles the silhouette of the distant

ancient city could enter the sacred precinct, they had to pass

Acropolis. Close inspection also reveals that he has signed the

through the elaborate gateway, the Propylaia, which marked

image as a painter w o u l d , incising his name i n the negative i n

the boundary between the secular w o r l d and the area dedicated

the puddle that fills part of the hollow of the r o c k .

to Athena and the other tutelary divinities. As one modern

60

Another significant influence on all the distant views,

scholar puts i t , "The Propylaia was designed as a splendid pre­ 64

including the last i n this series, Plate 5 ("View taken from the

lude to the Parthenon."

tower of the Cathedral, looking south-west" [fig. 7]), is the

Propylaia is a study in monumental ruin. (For more on this

I n Stillman's view (Plate 6; fig. 8), the

enduring perception that the light of Athens has a special vivid­

photograph, see pp. 1 3 1 , 133.) The Irish Classical scholar J. P.

ness and clarity. The authors of many travel narratives com­

Mahaffy, in his Rambles and Studies in Greece (1876), voices

ment on the unusual, slightly disorienting effect of Athenian

the reaction of many first-time visitors i n the nineteenth century

sunshine. The theme is addressed, for example, both by a pro­

to the Acropolis:

fessional writer, such as M a r k Twain i n his famous Abroad

Innocents

(1869), and by an ordinary British traveler, J. F. Young,

in his deservedly obscure Five

Weeks in Greece

[W]e look for some enduring monument whereupon we can

(1876). As

fasten our thoughts, and from which we can pass as from a

Twain and his fellow passengers on The Quaker City enter the

visible starting-point into all this history and all this great­

harbor of Piraeus, they gaze toward the city. "So exquisitely

ness. And at first we look in vain. The shattered pillars and

clear and pure is this wonderful atmosphere that every column

the torn pediments will not bear so great a strain; and the

of [the Parthenon] was discernible through the telescope, and

traveller feels forced to admit a sense of disappointment, sore

even the smaller ruins around i t assumed some semblance of

against his will.

shape."

61

65

For his part, Young notes "the deceptiveness of the

Greek atmosphere. Distances seem nothing, and the eye stretch­

For Mahaffy and his fellow travelers the letdown was

es over plains and mountains which look so near and yet are so

temporary, alleviated by repeated visits, but the initial impres­

far."

62

Such observations are wholly conventional, indeed

sion, more often than not, was of a disorderly jumble of archi­

almost ritualized, but they and their many near relations carry

tectural elements. N o t only does Stillman's photograph convey

a more complex cultural message. The illusionistic power

the devastation; i t could also almost be an illustration of the ele­

attributed to Athenian light, its compression of distance and

ments that, as we have seen, Ruskin assigned to the picturesque,

creation of an apparent proximity, is a direct corollary to the

"angular and broken lines, vigorous oppositions of light and

foreigners' broader construction of ancient Greece as familiar,

shadow." I n addition, "the picturesque" often contains a note

accessible, and desirable. I n the long views that open the album,

of pathos. Stillman's view of the Propylaia offers a poignant

Stillman makes full use of the "wonderful atmosphere"

to

detail i n the form of a narrow footpath threading its way up the

establish the continuing primacy of the Acropolis w i t h i n the

incline. Its irregular progress through the scattered architectur­

evolving Athenian landscape.

63

al remnants is an organic counterpart to the precise design of the remaining stairway, while i t also provides evidence for the ongoing visits by pilgrims to the site.

168

AN

AMERICAN

ON

THE

ACROPOLIS


Figure

6.

W I L L I A M

looking 1 5

JAMES

north-west, 5

(6 /i6 x 9 /i6

in.),

STILLMAN

(American, 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , The Acropolis

1869. From The Acropolis JPGM

from the hill above the

Ilissus,

of Athens (1870), Plate 4. Carbon print, 17.6 x 23 c m

84.xo.766.4.5. 169


Figure 7. W I L L I A M J A M E S S T I L L M A N (American, 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , View taken from the tower of the Cathedral, south-west, JPGM

172

1869. F r o m The Acropolis

84.xo.766.4.6.

of Athens

looking 5

(1870), Plate 5. Carbon p r i n t , 17.8 x 23.7 cm (7 x 9 / i 6 in.).


Figure 8 .

W I L L I A M J A M E S S T I L L M A N (American, 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , The western facade of the Propylaia, the Temple of Victory and the ancient steps, 1 8 6 9 . From The Acropolis 9

Carbon p r i n t , 1 8 . 4 x 2 4 . 3 cm (7V4 x 9 / i 6 in.), J P G M

with

of Athens ( 1 8 7 0 ) , Plate 6 .

84.xo.766.4.7.

173


Figure 9. WILLIAM

JAMES

STILLMAN

(American,

1828-1901),

Eastern

facade of the

Temple

of Victory,

1869.

From The

Acropolis

of Athens

(1870),

Plate 7 . Carbon print, 23.7 5

x 18.4

( 9 / i 6 x 7V4 JPGM

174

cm in.).

84.XO.766.4.8.


The frontal study of the Temple of Athena Nike—Plate 7,

are) made from an oblique angle, so as to include the north 67

"Eastern fagade of the Temple of V i c t o r y " (fig. 9)—is formally

colonnade.

more conventional than the other pictures so far, but it has t w o

keeping w i t h his statement i n the preface that he had attempt­

Stillman's picture, by contrast, is fully head-on, i n

elements that are particularly noteworthy. The first is that it

ed to photograph the facades from a point equidistant from the

shows the temple serving as a repository for sculpture. I n the

extremities (Plate 9; fig. 10). He breaks w i t h tradition as well i n

m i d - i 8 7 0 s , a few years after Stillman made these photographs,

making the picture from much farther away than was custom­

a major campaign of excavation on the Acropolis and its envi­

ary and, most notably, by incorporating into it (on the right) a

rons began under the sponsorship of the Athens Archaeological

rough retaining wall that the archaeologists had constructed. I n

Society. The finds were stored i n the open air and inside some

formal terms, Stillman consistently shows a fondness for a

of the temples. The Parthenon, too, was being used to store artistic fragments that archaeologists had uncovered.

66

Stillman

has already employed sculpture i n his photograph of the

strong diagonal line that leads the viewer's eye from the near foreground into the distance.

68

Evidently he could have stood

somewhat nearer the building and thereby isolated it from its

Theater of Dionysos (see fig. 5). The ancient artwork does not

surroundings, but here, as i n views throughout the folio, he

have the same prominence here, but i f one looks closely at the

prefers to locate his ancient subjects i n the living w o r l d of geog­

back wall, one can see leaning against it a relief sculpture of a

raphy, history, and change.

Nike that Stillman w i l l use, in close-up, for the penultimate image of the folio (Plate 24; see fig. 18). Also important is the

With

the

next

image,

"Western

p o r t i c o of

the

Parthenon" (Plate 10; fig. 11), Stillman's combined political and

man standing to the left of the temple. He is the first living

aesthetic agenda comes fully to the fore. The extraordinary pic­

human presence i n the album, seen from the back and clad i n

torial structure, so different from conventional views of the

the traditional kiltlike Greek fustanella. Once again Stillman is

temple, w o u l d be enough to distinguish this image from any

breaking w i t h the practice of his contemporaries, w h o only

others being made at the time. He here deploys the "vigorous

rarely included identifiably modern Greeks i n their photo­

oppositions of light and shadow," which together comprise one

graphs. Like the sculpture of Nike, similar figures w i l l reappear

of the hallmarks of the Ruskinian picturesque, along w i t h deep

in subsequent pictures (Plates 1 1 , 2 1 ; see figs. 12, 17) and

perspective, to create a novel composition. The bright light,

become increasingly substantial. Such understated but clearly

moreover, enables the viewer to discern many features of the

intentional repetition gives the entire album the quality of a

Athenians' construction techniques: the carving and place­

connected narrative rather than a collection of brilliant individ­

ment of the column drums, the stone subflooring and marble

ual moments.

cladding of the stylobate, and the lintels above. Stillman's

The centerpiece

of Stillman's Acropolis,

as of the

caption adds, "The names scratched on the columns are those

Acropolis itself, is the Parthenon, which has long been the sym­

of Philhellenes, w h o fought here i n the war of Greek inde­

bol of the Athenian Golden Age and indeed of Classical Greek

pendence."

civilization. It has also been the main destination of most visi­

Blondel, likely a Frenchman, w h o proudly designated himself

tors to Athens. Including one of the t w o close studies of sculp­

u

M o s t prominent is the capitalized name of one

h

PHiL [ellene] 1826."

ture, Stillman devotes almost half the album to the great Temple

Converging i n this single image are a number of

of Athena. By far the most popular view of the Parthenon was

Stillman's most salient concerns. To begin, his prior support

of the west end. It was the first side visitors saw once they had

of various independence movements, most recently on Crete,

cleared the Propylaia. M o r e important, i t was relatively the best

here finds an ideal symbolic expression. The Greek War of

preserved, retaining more of its triangular pediment, and thus

Independence from O t t o m a n rule had occupied much of the

of its ancient silhouette, than the east end, which had been the

1820s and had drawn support from all over Europe. Foreign

actual entrance. M o s t photographs of the west end were (and

philhellenes gathered i n Athens to fight side by side w i t h the

AN

AMERICAN

ON

THE

ACROPOLIS

175


Figure 1 0 .

W I L L I A M J A M E S S T I L L M A N (American, 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , Western facade of the Parthenon, From The Acropolis JPGM

176

of Athens

84.XO.766.4.IO.

1869.

( 1 8 7 0 ) , Plate 9 . Carbon p r i n t , 1 7 . 9 x 2 3 cm (7V16 x 9 Vie in.).


Figure n . W I L L I A M JAMES S T I L L M A N (American,

1828-T901), Western portico of the Parthenon, 1 8 6 9 . From The of Athens

Acropolis (1870),

Plate 1 0 . Carbon print, 2 4 . 3 x 1 9 . 1 cm 9

1

( 9 / i 6 x 7 / 2 in.). JPGM

84.xo.766.4.II.

177


Greeks.

69

I t was, as i t still is, a regrettably common practice

among foreign visitors to scratch their names on the monu­ ments.

70

one standing next to the Temple of Athena N i k e .

(Their cloth­

ing is identical, and this may well be the same person.) Also like

I n Greece the most famous example is L o r d Byron's

the earlier figure, and like the sculptural fragments, this man is

signature, incised o n one of the columns of the Temple of

not conspicuous — Stillman has positioned h i m i n deep shad­

Poseidon at Sounion, which itself has become an attraction for

o w — but he is linked by p r o x i m i t y i n sequence to the philhel­

subsequent generations of visitors. Stillman's philhellenes are

lenes extolled i n Plate 10.

much less well k n o w n than Byron (and their names have long

We must not assume that Stillman felt any sentimental

since been erased), but their devotion t o the cause of Greek free­

admiration for the modern Greeks. I n fact, his attitude is vari­

dom, like Byron's, is enough to ennoble what w o u l d otherwise

able, sometimes encomiastic but often caustic: " I entertain no

be little more than puerile defacement.

71

W i t h its new inscrip­

delusion o n the Greek race, or honor dead virtues i n the living

tions, the Parthenon becomes a palimpsest; the structure that

breed. I do not idealize i t a bit. I k n o w the common people to

had its origins i n the democracy of fifth-century-B.c. Athens is

be i n general disposed to lying and stealing i n a small way, and

transformed by time into a bastion and memorial for later

some of them i n a large w a y . "

defenders of Greek liberty. Stillman underscores what he sees as

remarks the prejudices typical of his time: " I do not myself like

73

One can hear i n some of his

the ideological significance of this link w i t h the radical framing,

the national characteristics, and i n general I may say that I don't

lighting, and composition he employs i n the photograph.

like Greeks (in general, I don't like Americans or m a n k i n d ) — I

M e d i u m and message are i n perfect conjunction. The next eight images, Plates 1 1 - 1 8 , continue Stillman's examination of the Parthenon w i t h primary emphasis o n its

don't like negroes, but don't see what my antipathies have to do w i t h their inalienable rights or m y duties toward t h e m . "

74

A

comparable moral notion of others' rights and his o w n duties

architectural features and refinements. I t must be remembered,

informs

however, that for Stillman the architectural and the picturesque

remains consistent is his conviction that the modern Greeks had

are complementary, not contradictory. H i s freedom from the

a right to o w n their cultural heritage.

restraints of photographic tradition can be as striking as the

178

72

Stillman's attitude toward the Greeks,

and what

The Parthenon literally and figuratively occupied the

view d o w n the west portico or as subdued as "Interior of the

pinnacle of the Greeks' cultural heritage. To illustrate the

Parthenon, taken from the western gate" (Plate 1 1 ; fig. 12). I n

remarkable artistry that the building embodies, Stillman moved

the catalogue of standard tourist views, one finds very few

away from

taken inside the Parthenon. The reason is that the foreign trav­

("Western portico of the Parthenon, from above, showing the

elers, w h o were the notional audience for most commercial

frieze i n its original position, the only portion which remains

the predictable points of view. For Plate 12

photographs, generally had little interest i n the temple's original

so" [fig. 13]) and Plate 13 ("View taken from the same point as

condition and function. Stillman's view across the cella looking

No.

east is austere, most of i t i n deep shadow. H i s chief purpose

Parthenon"), he climbed to the t o p of the temple, carrying w i t h

12, and l o o k i n g

eastward

over

the ruins

of the

seems to be to show the vestiges of ancient usage, for as the cap­

h i m his bulky camera and its heavy glass-plate negatives. Both

t i o n points out, "The circular grooves are those i n which the

images contribute to the folio's ongoing themes. The former

bronze valves swung." The remnants of the famous frieze of the

directly refers to other images that include the sculptural pro­

Parthenon stand discreetly arrayed along the modern brick wall

gram and, more broadly, to the archaeological significance of

on the left side.of the image. I n this regard, the picture both

the slabs that were still i n situ. The caption for the second pic­

refers back to the one of the Temple of Athena N i k e (Plate 7;

ture reads, " M o d e r n Athens is seen at the left, and above i t , i n

see fig. 9) and anticipates the studies of the frieze, Plates 12 [see

the center, Lycabetus [sic]; at the right Hymettus, and i n the

fig. 13] and 25 [see fig. 19]). Another connection to Plate 7 is

extreme distance Pentelicus." This plate thereby recalls the

that Stillman again includes a man i n Greek costume, like the

social and natural topography of Attica (as i n the opening series

AN

AMERICAN

ON

THE

ACROPOLIS


Figure 1 2 .

W I L L I A M JAXMES S T I L L M A N (American, 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , Interior of the Parthenon, western gate, 1 8 6 9 . From The Acropolis

of Athens

taken from

the

( 1 8 7 0 ) , Plate 1 1 . Carbon p r i n t , 1 7 . 9 x 2 3 cm

(7V16 x 9V6 in.), J P G M 8 4 . x o . 7 6 6 . 4 . 1 2 .

179


Figure 13.

W I L L I A M J A M E S S T I L L M A N (American, 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , Western portico showing of Athens

180

the frieze in its original position,

the only portion

of the Parthenon,

from

which remains so, 1869. From The

above, Acropolis

(1870), Plate 12. Carbon print, 18.9 x 23.3 c m {7V16 x yVu in.), J P G M 84.XO.766.4.13.


of photographs) and in particular, w i t h M o u n t Pentelikon, the

eastern portico he calls attention directly to his role as artist

source of the glowing marble from which the Parthenon was

and interpreter.

77

built. Stillman here adapts the "view from above," a favorite

After this relatively intimate picture comes a frontal,

trope in travel narrative and in travel photography, to make t w o

symmetrical study of the eastern facade (Plate 16, "Eastern

linked pictures that respectively evoke the Athenians' peerless

facade, or front, of the Parthenon"); like the picture of the west­

artistic achievement and designate the material source for its

ern face that opens the Parthenon series (Plate 9; see fig. 10),

accomplishment.

75

Like almost all his other photographs, these

this image exemplifies the standards of architectural precision

have no parallel in the repertoire of commercially available

Stillman articulates in his preface. One might expect this pic­

tourist views. They are directed instead toward an audience of

ture to end the series, but the photographer is not so pre­

connoisseurs able to appreciate the allusions they contain.

dictable. Just as he raised his camera to the top of the structure,

The second of the elevated views, as mentioned, directs

he now brings it d o w n almost to ground level for Plate 17,

the viewer's attention to the eastern end of the Parthenon, and

"Profile of the eastern fagade, showing the curvature of the

it is this section of the temple to which Stillman devotes the last

stylobate" (fig. 15). His long-standing interest in the details of

four studies of the edifice. After another general inside view

classical archaeology here comes to the fore. The caption is the

(Plate 14, "Interior of the Parthenon from the eastern end,"

most extensive in the entire album:

which echoes Plate 11 [see fig. 12], the symmetrical view from the western gate), another dramatic vertical image appears:

This system of curvatures of the Greek temples (which will

"Eastern portico of the Parthenon, view looking northward

also be seen in No. 12 [see fig. 13]), with regard to which so

and showing M o u n t Parnes in the extreme distance" (Plate 15;

much discussion has taken place, seems, taken in connection

fig. 14). M o u n t Parnes has strong associations w i t h Greek lib­

with the diminution of the extreme intercolumniations of the

erty as the site of the fortress called Phyle—which Christopher

facade (seen in No. 16) to indicate, as its purpose, the exag­

Wordsworth mentioned—where Thrasyboulos and his fol­

geration of the perspective and, consequently, of the apparent

lowers made their stand against the Thirty Tyrants in 403 B.C.

size of the building. It is common to the Greek temples of the

Yet in the photograph, M o u n t Parnes is barely visible; more

best epoch.

conspicuous is the figure standing at the far end of the portico w i t h his back to the camera. Unlike the other people depicted

It has become almost trite to assert that the Parthenon

in the folio, this man wears identifiably western dress. Even

has no straight lines but displays instead a remarkably sophis­

though diminutive i n comparison to the columns around h i m ,

ticated combination of curves, rises, and almost imperceptible

he is situated at the convergence of the lines of perspective and

swellings (as i n the entasis, the slight convexity of the

therefore occupies the visual center of the image. If, as seems

columns).

likely, this is Stillman himself, he is using his o w n presence to

"refinements" was still relatively recent. The scholar w h o had

78

I n Stillman's time, however, the discovery of such

associate himself both w i t h the modern Greeks (who appear

verified their existence was Francis Penrose; he drew together

in Plates 7, 1 1 , and 2 1 ; figs. 9, 12, and 17) and w i t h the prior

his analyses i n The

generation of philhellenes w h o had left their marks on the

(1851).

Parthenon.

76

79

Principles

of Athenian

Architecture

I n addition to its unusual length and detail, Stillman's

I n addition, his position, seemingly beneath a pre­

caption is noteworthy for its use of technical language; likewise,

cariously balanced column drum, is an affecting metaphor for

his reference to "so m u c h " contemporary scholarly discussion

the distress he had to endure at that time. As I have noted,

is clearly meant to establish his o w n erudition and, by implica­

Stillman esteemed in art a synthesis of exact description w i t h

tion, that of his audience. Richard Tomlinson observes that

personal interpretation, and in his view of the Parthenon's

"here [Stillman] is demonstrating the value of photography, for

AN

AMERICAN

ON

THE

ACROPOLIS

181


Figure 14. WILLIAM

JAMES

S T I L L M A N (American, 1828-1901), Eastern portico

of

the Parthenon,

view

looking

northward

and showing

Mount

Parnes in the

extreme

distance,

1869.

F r o m The of Athens

Acropolis (1870),

Plate 15. Carbon print, 24.1 x 18.4 cm (9V2 x

7V4

in.).

J P G M 84.XO.766.4.16.

182


Figure 15.

W I L L I A M J A M E S S T I L L M A N (American, 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , Profile of the eastern facade [of the Parthenon], showing

the curvature of the stylobate, l

Carbon print, 18.4 x 23.8 cm (j A

1869. From The Acropolis

of Athens (1870), Plate 17.

3

x 9 /s in.). J P G M 84.xo.766.4.18. 183


though Penrose makes clear in his architectural drawings what

the Erechtheum [Erechtheion] at the right, and i n the distance,

the refinements are, they are much more successfully revealed

at the left, the Egean [sic]. The Parthenon occupies the centre"

by the camera."

80

The angle of the shot, reinforced by Stillman's

(Plate 18; fig. 16). A curiosity of much nineteenth-century land­

didactic caption, focuses the viewer's attention on the building's

scape photography is that the skies are generally mottled or

construction and engineering. Nonetheless, the rest of the pic­

blank; the reason is that the glass-plate negatives were not

ture is considerably less technical i n intention and effect. I n

panchromatic and so could not simultaneously record sky and

designing i t , Stillman abandoned traditional notions of bal­

land w i t h equal detail.

anced composition. M u c h of the image is empty sky, w i t h a

phers could either paint on the negative or, more effectively, cre­

wedge of mountainous landscape i n the far distance, so that the

ate a second negative of the sky and make what was called a

frame is almost completely weighted to the right, where the

combination p r i n t .

temple stands.

Acropolis

Stillman also placed, or one might say posed, a small votive relief on the middle step, facing the viewer. Like the

83

82

To resolve this dilemma, photogra­

W r i t i n g i n the Nation two years after The

of Athens was published, Stillman praised the "com­

bination landscapes" of t w o British photographers, Peach Robinson and N . K . C h e r r i l l ,

84

Henry

as being

decapitated statue i n the Theater of Dionysos i n Plate 2 (see fig. 5), the sculpture functions as the figure i n the landscape,

in good taste and exquisite manipulation, in the happy

here recalling the religious practices of antiquity. A miniature

rendering of skies ... all that one can conceive of a photo­

variant of the grand frieze that once adorned the temple, i t is

graphic record of the flitting, evanescent, never-to-be-repeated

connected both to the earlier pictures that include the frieze

and unpainted cloud scenery. They are surprisingly perfect,

(Plates 11 and 12; see figs. 12 and 13) and to the close-up of one

and the ensemble of landscape and sky, though printed from

slab (Plate 25; see fig. 19) that concludes the album. The

different negatives, taken at different times and places, is so

plaque, moreover, provides additional visual support for the

complete that no-one but a practised painter could, in certain

caption's reference

cases, detect the duality of the impression.^

to "Greek temples of the best epoch."

5

Stillman's assessment of artistic excellence was widely shared. So, for example, one of the most popular English guidebooks

In this instance Stillman's admiration stems from his

declares i n its chapter on the Parthenon, "The traveler should

o w n mastery of the technique, and it is not difficult to hear an

not fail to look for a peculiar refinement recently discovered

autobiographical note i n his comment about the expertise of a

in the construction of the Greek temples of the best period . . .

"practised painter." I have noted his claim i n the preface to the

namely a systematic deviation from ordinary rectilinear con­

album that, for the sake of accuracy, he retouched very few of

struction."

81

As sophisticated and unconventional as he was i n

the negatives. Plate 18 is one of them. Shifting the mode w h o l ­

his photography, Stillman firmly embraced the belief held by

ly to the picturesque, Stillman makes brilliant use of combina­

most of his contemporaries that Greek civilization reached its

tion printing to surround the temple w i t h a turbulent mass of

apex i n

clouds, which grow progressively brighter as they near the

fifth-century-B.C.

Athens. The earlier Bronze Age, the

later Hellenistic and Roman periods, and virtually everything

building. As a result, the Parthenon stands w i t h i n a k i n d of halo

on through the War of Independence and beyond — these m i l ­

and indeed seems to be the source of the light that glows around

lennia of history could be dismissed as altogether culturally

it.

This plate marks a transition: i t serves as a finale to the

inferior to the Periclean age. Otherwise, Stillman's reference to

Parthenon

"the best epoch" w o u l d have no meaning.

power of the temple — and i t also introduces the last major

The last image of the ten devoted to the Parthenon takes the form of a compelling panorama: "General view of the sum­ mit of the Acropolis, from the extreme eastern point, showing

184

8 6

AN

AMERICAN

ON

THE

ACROPOLIS

series — celebrating the centrality and enduring

monument on the Acropolis, the Erechtheion.


The Erechtheion was built somewhat later than the

most views of the ancient monuments.

89

Stillman's approach is

Parthenon, i n the final t w o decades of the fifth century B.C. (ca.

quite different. The Greek figures i n preceding images are visi­

4 2 3 - 4 0 7 ) . It was a complicated structure, occupying multiple

ble, even though off to the side (Plate 7; see fig. 9) or i n shadow

levels, and it housed shrines to several mythical heroes and

(Plate 1 1 ; see fig. 12); by contrast, their counterpart here stands

divinities. I n contrast to the Doric austerity of the Parthenon, its

proudly astride the top step i n the center of the frame. His

style was more flamboyant, w i t h elaborate architectural decora­

prominent location and assertive posture emphatically convey

tion and d e t a i l .

87

Once more Stillman has ordered his photo­

Stillman's commitment to Greek political autonomy. This indi­

graphs of the monument i n a sequence, now beginning w i t h a

vidual, and by implication his fellow citizens, should be consid­

long view, across a field littered w i t h architectural remnants, of

ered capable of inheriting and perpetuating the noble legacy of

"The eastern facade of the Erechtheum" (Plate 19). Here, too,

Classical Athens.

the sky has been enhanced w i t h the addition of some clouds,

The last t w o photographs i n the Erechtheion series are

and the tall, slender columns appear almost i n silhouette. They

superbly executed but rather conventional. Plate 22, "Western

offer a sharp contrast to the squat mass of the so-called

flank of the Erechtheum," is the companion piece to Plate 19,

Frankish Tower, which had been installed at the southwest cor­

taken from the exact opposite side. Showing the Erechtheion

ner of the Propylaia i n the late fourteenth century, when the

rising out of a field covered w i t h rubble and wildflowers, it

Florentines ruled Athens. The next t w o views close i n on one of

evokes the temple's complicated structure and multiplicity of

the Erechtheion's best-preserved sections, the Pandrosion. A

functions.

middle-distance view of "The Portico of the Pandrosium from

ing the "Tribune [porch] of the Caryatids (supposed to be the

the n o r t h " (Plate 20) must have been made i n the late after­

monument

noon, for the light is coming from the sun l o w on the horizon.

Kekrops is another small display of Stillman's erudition, for

Beautifully composed, the image uses fallen stone blocks lying

scholars had concluded that one corner of the porch covered the

on the ground to provide the well-defined diagonal element that

tomb of that mythical founder and first king of Athens.

Stillman so often favors.

its colonnade of female statues, this was, and is, by far the most

In the caption for the next picture, "Gate

of the

90

Concluding the set is a near view, Plate 23, show­ of Cecrops)."

The parenthetical reference

91

to

With

famous section of the Erechtheion. A mid-nineteenth-century

Pandrosium, showing details of the ornament" (Plate 2 1 ; fig. 17),

German travel writer named Hermann Hettner voiced a typical

Stillman calls attention to the intricate carving around the

reaction, calling the Caryatids "inimitably beautiful statues of

entryway, which is t h r o w n into high relief by the oblique light.

Attic maidens" and adding, " H o w finely the artist has here

The presence of the Greek man provides scale, showing the

blended the plastic and the architectural!"

entryway's imposing height, and i t also carries a more complex

facade, i t was very popular among photographers.

92

Like the west 93

The pic­

ideological charge. When tourist views depict "natives" i n local

ture is also a transitional image, for while it is the last architec­

costume, their function is broadly ethnographic. That is, the

tural study i n the album, it leads into the final t w o plates, which

figures add a suggestion of the exotic and confirm the difference

are both close-ups of sculpture.

between the foreign site and the viewer's home. Less benignly,

The visual arc of the album, then, moves from long view,

such images can serve to support stereotypes or outright preju­

to intermediate distance, and finally to minute detail, thereby

dice; some nineteenth-century photographic genre scenes from

replicating the process by which a scholar becomes familiar

Italy, for example, show people engaged i n supposedly typical

w i t h a subject, or a traveler w i t h a place. Plate 24 is entitled

Italian activities, such as begging, picking pockets, and eating

"Figure of Victory, from the temple of Victory; high relief"

spaghetti w i t h their hands.

88

Photographs made in Greece do

(fig. 18). To emend this identification slightly, the picture shows

not descend to such grotesque caricature, yet i t is the case, as I

a panel from the sculpted parapet that once served as a protec­

have noted, that photographers exclude modern Greeks from

tive balustrade around the small Temple of Athena N i k e . The

AN

AMERICAN

ON

THE

ACROPOLIS

185


Figure 16.

W I L L I A M J A M E S S T I L L M A N {American, 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , General view of the summit of the from the extreme

eastern point, showing

the Egean [sic]. The Parthenon

the Erechtheum

occupies the centre, 1869. F r o m The Acropolis

Plate 18. Carbon print, 17.6 x 24 c m (6 /i6 15

186

Acropolis,

at the right, and in the distance, at the left,

x 9 ^ 6 in.), J P G M

84.xo.766.4.19.

of Athens

(1870),


Figure 17. W I L L I A M

STILLMAN

JAMES

(American,

1828-1901),

Gate

of the

Pandrosium,

showing

details of

the ornament, 1869. From The of Athens

Acropolis (1870),

Plate 2 1 . Carbon print, 24 x 18.6 cm 5

(9^16 x 7 /i6 in.). JPGM

84.XO.766.4.22.

187


Figure 18. W I L L I A M

STILLMAN

JAMES

(American,

1828-1901),

Figure

of Victory, from the Temple of

Victory;

high relief, 1869. F r o m The of Athens

Acropolis (1870),

Plate 24. Carbon p r i n t , 23.8 x 18.7 cm 3

(9 /8 x 7 /s JPGM

188

3

in.).

84.XO.766.4.25.


original parapet stood about three feet tall and comprised

Athena. As fine as the sculpture is, and as meticulous as Still­

numerous slabs w i t h many such figures, "flocks of winged

man's rendering is, the picture he has chosen as a conclusion to

94

N i k a i , " as one modern scholar w r i t e s . They were attendants

the album is quietly understated. It harks back to the series of

to Athens's divine patroness i n her persona as Athena N i k e ,

Parthenon studies, in particular Plate 11 (see fig. 12), where one

who protected her city by granting its citizens success i n war.

can discern a few of the slabs on the ground on the far left, and

Stillman introduced the same sculpture in Plate 7 (see

Plate 12 (see fig. 13), the "aerial view" that shows the last part

fig. 9), where i t appears on the left, propped against the back

of the frieze that was i n its original position. I n addition, the

wall of the temple, as a small, almost subliminal, detail. By con­

image evokes the civic unity, the sense of common purpose, and

trast, i n Plate 24 he uses the relief to fill most of the frame.

the communal piety that were extolled as the emblems of

Archaeologists stored some of their finds w i t h i n the temple, and

Athenian democracy. (It is only a small irony that the horsemen

so the slab is surrounded by fragments of sculpted torsos and

depicted here were doubtless members of the wealthy elite.) For

crown moldings, the latter decorated w i t h the "egg and dart"

Stillman this panel, along w i t h the frieze of which i t was part,

motif. The photograph resembles a collage composed of bits of

was an exemplary synthesis of the political and the aesthetic, of

Classical art and architecture. By bringing his camera so near

the architectural and the picturesque.

his subject, Stillman packs the photograph w i t h a wealth of detail. Especially striking are the modeling of Nike's body, the

Distribution of The Acropolis

of Athens was restricted

to a relatively small group of connoisseurs. The images were

clinging drapery, and the figure's graceful pose. Her lost wing is

k n o w n and admired by some painters, notably Lawrence Alma-

stiil visible in outline. The image, however, is not simply art for

Tadema, but they did not influence subsequent photographers.

art's sake. In its intense focus on a single statue, it embodies one

Nonetheless, the album is a uniquely significant achievement.

of the album's most important themes and one of Stillman's

Stillman brought to it his excellent education as well as what

urgent concerns: victory, of Greeks over their enemies and,

he had learned i n life from the various scholars, artists, and

more broadly, of liberty over oppression — all finding expres­

writers he had befriended. He also had the freedom of the

sion i n aesthetic form.

true amateur, i n that he did not have to tailor his pictures to

The closing image, "Fragment

of frieze from

the

fit the demands of a patron. I n addition, at the time The

Parthenon" (Plate 25), similarly uses photography's capacity to

Acropolis

of Athens was published, archaeology was coming

isolate an object and focus the viewer's attention on it (fig.

into its o w n as an academic discipline, and

archaeologists

The rough brick wall glimpsed behind the slab indicates

increasingly employed photography as a means of technical

that, like the Nike sculpture, it was being stored i n the open air,

documentation. W i t h i n the realm of antiquities photography,

19).

95

98

I n Stillman's time there was gen­

therefore, there emerged a parting of the ways separating those

eral agreement that the frieze represented, as Murray's guide­

w h o used the medium for scientific purposes, for individual

book notes, "the greater or quadrennial Panathenaea. This

artistic expression, and for mass-produced commercial views.

composition, although treated very poetically, is yet on the

Stillman's great success consists i n his bringing together these

in this case i n the Parthenon.

96

99

whole correctly descriptive of what actually took p l a c e . " T h e

divergent approaches and fusing them into a coherent aes­

festival was celebrated annually and w i t h special splendor every

thetic entity.

97

four years. A l l residents of Athens participated i n it to honor

189


Figure 19.

W I L L I A M J A M E S S T I L L M A N (American, 1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , Fragment F r o m The Acropolis JPGM

190

of Athens

84.xo.766.4.26.

of frieze from the Parthenon,

(1870), Plate 25. Carbon print, 18.9 x 24 cm {yVu x 9^16 in.).

1869.


EPILOGUE

P U B L I S H E D I N 1 8 7 0 , The Acropolis

of Athens sold

Ulysses, part of which is a record of a t w o - m o n t h sailing voy­ 104

well enough, presumably to a coterie of affluent sub­

age around the Mediterranean.

scribers, to reap Stillman a profit of some $1,000 —

locations such as the island of Ithaca and even Scylla and

It emphasizes the reality of

about equal to a year's consular salary. While he was in London

Charybdis, identified as the Straits of Messina. I n the other

to oversee its production, and to get medical care for his son,

major essay of the volume, Stillman argues that "the so-called

Russie, he was befriended by the Greek consul general, Michael

Venus of Melos"—better k n o w n as the Venus de M i l o — is

Spartali. Spartali had a beautiful daughter, Marie, herself a

actually the statue of Wingless Victory that once stood i n the

painter w h o had modeled for the Pre-Raphaelite artists Edward

Temple of Athena N i k e on the Acropolis. Despite a number of

Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti as well as for the pho­

such extravagantly wrongheaded interpretations, it is clear that

tographer Julia Margaret C a m e r o n . Acropolis

100

Stillman dedicated The

of Athens "To / Miss Marie Spartali / worthy scion of

he had earned acceptance as a serious participant i n the inter­ national scholarly c o m m u n i t y .

105

/ the race which has given us the world's consummate art / this

In his personal life, the tensions w i t h the Spartali family

book is dedicated / i n token of sincere admiration and respect.

diminished over time, and M r . Spartali regularly provided

/ W. J. S. / 1870." The following year, i n the face of opposition

financial assistance to M a r i e and her husband. Stillman, as

from her father, she and Stillman became engaged and then

noted, made his living from w r i t i n g , and providentially (as he

married. They lived together i n apparent harmony for another

w o u l d have said), when his father-in-law fell into financial

thirty years. Their life was not free from tragedy, i n particular

difficulties i n 1888, Stillman was named Rome correspondent

the death of Russie i n 1 8 7 5 .

101

Nonetheless, they seem gener­

for the Times. The family lived there for another decade until

ally to have been happy, becoming the parents of three more

he retired, and then they moved to Surrey, England. There he

children. Stillman supported his family as a full-time journalist,

died i n 1901, shortly after Autobiography

reporting, among other places, from the Balkans during the

published.

anti-Turkish war i n Herzegovina i n the late 1870s.

of a Journalist

was

Notwithstanding all his other activities, Stillman had

Stillman also became increasingly involved i n the w o r l d

managed to complete t w o additional photographic projects. I n

of Classical archaeology. The public had been electrified by the

1874 he published Poetic Localities

discoveries of Heinrich Schliemann, first i n the early 1870s at

w i t h twelve of his o w n photographs, accompanied by texts

Hissarlik i n northwest Turkey, which he identified as the site of

written by his old friends Holmes, Longfellow, and Lowell. The

Troy, and then in 1876 at Mycenae in the Peloponnese.

102

From

of Cambridge, illustrated

photographs recall both the nature studies Stillman had made

the outset Stillman joined the opposition, finding fault w i t h

in the Adirondacks and the sujets

Schliemann's methods, conclusions, and personal integrity. He

Rousseau that he had admired i n Paris almost twenty-five years

launched scholarly salvos at lectures and i n the press, as i n one

earlier.

of the many letters he wrote to the Nation: " [ A ] 11 archaeologists

what has since come to be called "rephotography." He went

at Athens k n o w that Schliemann's education and judgment i n

back to all the sites he had photographed for The Acropolis

archaeological matters are absolutely nul....

Athens

He has perpetrat­

ed more blunders i n purely archaeological matters than are per­

106

intimes

of Theodore

Then, i n 1882, he returned to Athens and undertook of

and tried to reproduce the earlier views as closely as

possible (figs. 20, 21). Such repetition was common practice for

Stillman formulated his o w n theories, often

some commercial photographers, like Felix Bonfils, because

eccentric. I n 1888 he published a small book, On the Track of

it enabled them to offer their clients new, and presumably

mitted to a t y r o . "

1 0 3

AN

AMERICAN

ON

THE

ACROPOLIS

191


Figure 20. WILLIAM STILLMAN

JAMES (American,

1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , Western portico of the Parthenon, 1882. Albumen silver print, 19.7 3

(7 A

x x

16.5 cm 6V2 in.).

Courtesy of the W. J. Stillman Collection, Schaffer Library, Union College, Schenectady, N e w York.

192


Figure 2 1 . W I L L I A M JAMES STILLMAN

(American,

1 8 2 8 - 1 9 0 1 ) , Profile

of the northern facade of the Parthenon, showing the curvature of the stylobate, 1 8 8 2 . Albumen silver print, 15.9 x 18.4 l

(6 A

x 1/4 7

cm

in.).

Courtesy of the W . J. Stillman Collection, Schaffer Library, U n i o n College, Schenectady, N e w York.

improved, versions of earlier images.

107

S t i l l m a n — w h o does

I n 1885 the renowned classical archaeologist and art

not mention this project i n his autobiography — had motives

historian A d o l f Michaelis wrote to Stillman, thanking h i m for

that are less clear. The reason may have been i n part financial,

a letter "and for the series of excellent photographs" he had

for the new negatives were used to make prints that were sold

recently sent. "Your method must be a good one," Michaelis

by the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies i n London.

added, "the photographs having lost nothing of their charm by

This is pure conjecture, of course, yet his intention was proba­

the mathematical precision you have given to them, o n the con­

bly much deeper.

108

One can understand that he w o u l d want to

trary the whole effect being highly satisfying."

109

replicate the earlier images, which had gotten a w a r m reception on their publication, but n o w without the personal burdens under which he had labored i n 1869. Given Stillman's general accuracy i n assessing his o w n career, he may also have recog­ nized that his photographs of the Acropolis were his most accomplished and important w o r k .

193


ROME AND

Robert

Macpherson was the most distinguished of the several

commissioned by a Pompeian official i n A . D . 3 to honor both the

photographers making studies of ancient monuments i n Rome

goddess Fortuna and the emperor Augustus. Above the intersection,

i n the 1850s. A Scot, trained first as a surgeon, then as a painter, he

w i t h its stepping-stones to facilitate pedestrians crossing the deeply

settled i n the city i n 1840 and took up photography i n 1851. I n his

rutted street, tourists posed for the camera on the high p o d i u m of

superbly textured and deeply shadowed view of the Theater of

the temple. (Plate x i )

Marcellus, which was begun by Julius Caesar and finished by

The long-established Roman p r i n t seller and photographs

engraver

Augustus, the original articulation of the curving facade had almost

Tommaso Cuccioni made large-scale

been erased by later encroachments that walled i n its upper arches

throughout the 1850s. Besides selling the photographs i n his store i n

and filled the half-buried ground-floor arcade w i t h humble w o r k ­

the center of Rome, he sent them to exhibitions i n London and

shops. Macpherson angled his view of the triumphal arch of the

Paris, where they were highly commended. His photograph of the

emperor Septimius Severus (ruled 1 9 3 - 2 1 1 ) to show the blocky

Baths of Caracalla encompasses the bulk of the three enormous

volume of the badly stained and somewhat dilapidated structure.

vaults of the side of the frigidarium

The figure seated i n the principal arch shows that the reliefs of

of the city

pool; i n order to capture this, Cuccioni had to place his camera at

that gave onto the swimming

soldiers at the base of the Corinthian columns are nearly life-size.

an angle and some distance away. The view is forthright but some­

Macpherson's photographs, proudly stamped w i t h his name, found

what stark, partly because all the ancient marble cladding had long

wide distribution through booksellers i n both Britain and Italy.

ago been stripped from the underlying brick and stone. The gentle

(Plates i x - x )

r h y t h m of the smaller-scale foreground arches moving to the right

The German emigre Giorgio Sommer established a photo­ graphic studio i n Naples i n 1857, w h i c h flourished i n the following decades. The firm's photographs of architecture, ruins, and natural wonders, as well as its small-scale reproductions of antique sculp­ ture, were aimed at the tourist trade. To enhance their appeal, the prints were sometimes hand colored. The geographical scope of Sommer's business steadily expanded until the number of different images listed i n its catalogues reached nineteen thousand. As the iearlmg^Nea]^

day, Sommer's subjects log­

ically included numerous views of nearby Pompeii, among them a study of the remains of the Temple of Fortuna Augusta, w h i c h was

196

POMPEII

plays against that of the three larger arches receding to the left. (Plate x n ) GB


Plate i x . ROBERT

MACPHERSON

(Scottish, 1 8 1 1 - 1 8 7 2 ) ,

Theater Rome,

of

Marcellus,

1850s.

Albumen silver print, 40.8 x 28.6

cm

(16V16

x 111/4 in.).

JPGM

84.XM.502.i7.

197


Plate x. ROBERT

MACPHERSON

(Scottish, 1 8 1 1 - 1 8 7 2 ) ,

Arch of

Septimius

Severus, Rome,

1850s.

Albumen silver print, 40.3 x 30 (15% x n JPGM

198

cm 1 3

/ i 6 in.).

84.XM.502.13.


Plate X L

G I O R G I O S O M I M E R (German, 1 8 3 4 - 1 9 x 4 , active Italy), The Temple of Fortuna Augusta, i n Pompeii, about 1870s. Z

Hand-colored albumen silver print, 19.7 x 25.4 cm {~J /A X 10 in.), G R I 2 0 0 3 . R . 1 4 * . 199


Plate X I I .

T O M M A S O C U C C I O N I (Italian, 1 7 9 0 - 1 8 6 4 ) , Baths of Caracalla, Rome, 18505

A l b u m e n silver print, 33.3 x 46.5 c m (13V8 x i 8 / i 6 in.). J P G M 8 4 . X M . 6 3 6 . 1 3 .

200


BRAUN, CLEMENT ET CIE

B

raun, Clement et Cie was founded

by Adolphe Braun

The Braun photograph of the view from the n o r t h of the

( i 812 - 1 8 7 7 ) , a textile designer w h o utilized photographs of

Archaic Temple of A p o l l o at Corinth—one of the oldest examples

plants i n his design process beginning about 1853. Soon thereafter

of the Doric order—shows the remaining seven (of an original

he produced an album of views of his native Alsace and later, by

thirty-eight) columns. Unusually, the columns were monoliths, each

employing other photographers, he published views of Switzerland,

carved from a single block of stone. By closely framing the columns

Austria, Belgium, and France. Through the carbon printing process

so that they fill the w i d t h of the image, the photographer made the

the studio he opened i n Paris produced durable, rich, detailed

temple appear more intact and solid than i f it had been viewed from

prints. Increasingly, the firm turned to making large-scale photo­

an angle or from a greater distance. Characteristically for a Braun

graphic reproductions of works of art drawn from European muse­

photograph, a figure was included i n order to give an idea of the

um collections.

scale of the building. (Plate x i v )

The company's large inventory of images of drawings, paint­

A similar scale figure, a short-skirted guardian, leans against

ings, and sculpture, as well as its views of European cities and clas­

a pillar i n the handsome, symmetrical Braun view looking outward

sical sites were widely distributed. Thanks to their scale, clarity, and

from

choice of subjects, the images enjoyed considerable commercial suc­

Acropolis. I n the center, a sliver of the Saronic Gulf glimmers below

cess, w i t h frequent sales to educational institutions and museums as

the distant mountains. The photograph was likely taken by the same

well as to the public. As the firm expanded, i t commissioned stereo­

photographer w h o made the C o r i n t h image. (Plate x v )

scopic views of tourist destinations and added new, even largerscale views. From close to the base of the Capitoline H i l l , the Braun view

the Propylaia, the ceremonial gateway to the Athenian

The romantic view of the pyramids of the Giza plateau is conventionally touristic i n nature, as i t includes pyramids, palms, and camels that are reflected i n the foreground pool. Uncommonly

of the Roman Forum stretches d o w n its length to the A r c h of Titus

for

in the hazy distance. Looming on the central skyline behind Baroque

add the reflection of the top of the pyramid. (Plate x v i )

and Romanesque churches are the hulking remains of the Baths of

a Braun-sponsored w o r k , the negative was altered i n order to

GB

Trajan and the Colosseum. The emphatic verticals of the columns of the Temple of Saturn play against the horizontal lines created by the long avenue of trees stretching eastward, planted i n 1855 after par­ tial excavation of this area of the Forum. From exactly this vantage point other photographers of the period made very similar views, but of lesser quality. (Plate x n i )

201


Plate x m .

B R A U N , C L E M E N T E T C I E (French firm, active 1877-192,8), The Forum, Rome, print 1890, from a negative of about 1870. Carbon print, 61.6 x 76.8 c m (24V4 x 30V4 i n . ) , J P G M 8 7 . X M . 9 9 . 4 .

202


Plate x i v .

B R A U N , C L E M E N T E T C I E (French firm, active 1 8 7 7 - 1 9 2 8 ) , The Temple of A p o l l o at C o r i n t h , 7

print about 1890, from an earlier negative. Carbon print, 37.8 x 47 cm (i4 /s x 18V2 in.), G R I 8 8 . R . 2 6 * * . 203


Plate x v . BRAUN,

CLEMENT

ET C I E (French firm, active 1 8 7 7 - 1 9 2 8 ) ,

The Propylaia, Athens, p r i n t 1 8 9 0 , from an earlier nega足 tive. Carbon print, 76.8 x 61.1

cm

(30V2 x 2 4 in.). JPGM 87.XM.99.5.

204


Plate x v i .

B R A U N , C L S M E N T E T C I E (French firm, active 1 8 7 7 - 1 9 2 8 ) , The Giza Plateau, Cairo, print about 1890, 3

from an earlier negative. Carbon print, 59.7 x 78.1 cm (23 V2 x 3o /4 in.), G R I 88.R.26**. 205


Notes

Introduction

15.

T h e s i g n a t u r e o n his p r i n t s has a n u m b e r o f v a r i a n t s , s u c h as D i m i t r i o s K o n s t a n t i n o u a n d , t e s t i f y i n g t o his i n t e r n a t i o n a l c l i e n t e l e , " C o n s t a n t i n a

1.

Herodotus,

The Histories,

16.

( N e w Y o r k and L o n d o n : Penguin, 1996), 98. 2.

Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour

see James B u z a r d ,

(London: Bodley Head, 17.

1972).

Excursions along the Nile: The Photographic

C r a w f o r d , "Robert Macpherson, 1 8 1 4 - 1 8 7 2 : The Foremost

(Santa B a r b a r a [ C A ] M u s e u m o f A r t , 1 9 9 3 ) o n

of R o m e , "

18.

H o w e (note 3), 34. T h i s is m y t r a n s l a t i o n o f t h e o r i g i n a l F r e n c h , as q u o t e d b y L i n d s e y S t e w a r t i n

19.

1839-1959

20.

( A t h e n s : P o t a m o s , 2 0 0 0 ) , 1 4 . D a g u e r r e o t y p e s w e r e m a d e b y first

easier t o get a c l e a n , p o l i s h e d , a n d even c o a t i n g o n a r e l a t i v e l y s m a l l surface.

Rome,"

Charles Dickens,

Pictures from Italy

(1846; repr. N e w Y o r k : Ecco, 1988),

108. 21.

George H i l l a r d ,

Six Months in Italy,

2 vols. ( N e w York: T i c k n o r and

Nineteenth-Century V i e w s of the Colosseum," 115-42. 22.

See W i l l i a m V a n c e ,

America's Rome,

Arion

ser. 3, v o l . 2 . 1 ( 1 9 9 2 ) :

2 v o l s . ( N e w H a v e n , C T : Yale U n i v .

o f fine d e t a i l , hence G i r a u l t de Prangey's b o a s t a b o u t t h e " t o t a l a c c u r a c y "

Press, 1 9 8 9 ) , 1: 4 3 - 6 7 ; a n d i d e m , " T h e C o l o s s e u m : A m e r i c a n Uses o f a n

o f his v i e w s . F o r a c o n c i s e d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e d a g u e r r e o t y p e process, see

I m p e r i a l I m a g e , " i n A . Patterson, ed.,

Looking at Photographs: A Guide to Technical Terms

Roman Images ( B a l t i m o r e :

Johns

H o p k i n s U n i v . Press, 1 9 8 4 ) , 1 0 5 - 4 0 . I n a d d i t i o n , I h a v e o b s e r v e d t h a t t h e

( M a l i b u : J. P a u l G e t t y M u s e u m , 1 9 9 1 ) , 3 5 .

" m a s s i v e size o f t h e C o l o s s e u m , t h e e x t r a v a g a n t a n d o f t e n b l o o d y spectacles

Stewart (note 6), 28.

i t h a d h o u s e d , a n d its p i c t u r e s q u e decay m a d e i t t h e p e r f e c t e m b o d i m e n t o f the i m p e r i a l c i t y " (Szegedy-Maszak [note 2 1 ] : 122).

See H a n s C h r i s t i a n A d a m a n d A l k i s X a n t h a k i s , " M a r g a r i t i s a n d t h e

History of Photography 1 6 . 1 ( 1 9 9 1 ) : 6 1 - 6 9 ; d Philippos Margaritis: O Protos Ellenas Photographos [ T h e a

First Greek Photographer] (Athens: Photographos,

n

23.

vedute a n d

subsequent photographs

are

Britannia, Italia, Germania: Taste and Travel in the Nineteenth Century ( E d i n b u r g h : V a r i e , 2 0 0 1 ) , 6 - 2 2 . See P i e r o B e c c h e t t i , Fotografi e fotografia in Italia, 1 8 3 9 - 1 8 8 0 ( R o m e : Q u a s a r , 1 9 7 8 ) , 7 9 ; a n d i d e m , La fotografia a Roma dalle origini al 1915,

R i c h a r d s o n a n d G r a h a m S m i t h , eds.,

1990).

' " W e l l - R e c o r d e d W o r t h ' : P h o t o g r a p h s o f t h e P a r t h e n o n , " i n Jenifer N e i l s ,

The Parthenon from Antiquity to the Present

The relation between Cuccioni's

treated i n A n d r e w Szegedy-Maszak, "Rambles i n R o m e , " i n C a r o l

O n t h e s t a n d a r d i z a t i o n o f s u c h v i e w s , see A n d r e w S z e g e d y - M a s z a k , ed.,

24.

( C a m b r i d g e U n i v . Press,

2 n d e d n . ( R o m e : C o l o m b o , 1 9 9 7 ) , esp. 2 9 3 - 9 4 .

2005). A s a r o u g h b u t a c c u r a t e g a u g e o f t h e P a r t h e n o n ' s r e l a t i v e status, t h e c a t a 足

25.

T h e b u i l d i n g w a s p r o b a b l y c o n s t r u c t e d d u r i n g t h e r e i g n o f A u g u s t u s , a n d its

l o g u e o f t h e E n g l i s h P h o t o g r a p h i c C o m p a n y , w h i c h d i d business i n A t h e n s

i d e n t i f i c a t i o n is so u n c e r t a i n t h a t i t is n o w s i m p l y c a l l e d " t h e c i r c u l a r t e m 足

i n t h e late n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y , o f f e r e d o n e v i e w o f t h e T e m p l e o f O l y m p i a n

p l e . " See L a w r e n c e R i c h a r d s o n , Jr.,

Zeus, t w o o f the Theseion, a n d n o fewer t h a n eight different pictures o f the

Ancient Rome

K a r l Baedeker,

Greece: Handbook for Travellers

t h e n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y sources. See also A n d r e w S z e g e d y - M a s z a k

(Leipzig, L o n d o n , and N e w

The t o w e r was removed i n 1875; H e i n r i c h Schliemann, w h o had excavated

H o u g h t o n L i b r a r y , H a r v a r d U n i v . , 1 9 9 9 ) , 8 9 - 1 0 6 , esp. 9 9 - 1 0 2 .

t h e sites o f T r o y a n d M y c e n a e , p r o v i d e d t h e f u n d s f o r its d e m o l i t i o n . J o h n P a p a d o p o u l o s has c o r r e c t l y r e m i n d e d m e t h a t s o m e p h o t o g r a p h e r s ,

26.