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by Archaeology Newsroom

The “adventure” of Greek antiquities as depicted in European travelling editions

The treatment of ancient Greek subjects in engravings of travelling editions — from the earlier representations to the nineneenth century — is sketched out in this article through characteristic examples. Furthermore, the Europeans’ point of view and approach towards the “antique” is searched as it appears in the illustrations of these editions. In earlier works the element of the imagination plays an important role and participates in the creation of pictures, which aim to impress the reader-viewer, while at the same time visual stimulations from European art and architecture contribute to the final formation of the work. In the seventeenth century the first efforts for the representation of realistic elements and data are made — products of in situ observations — and progressively increase. However, even in the advanced eighteenth century, in spite of a tendency for a reliable documentation, certain arbitrary representations of antiquities appear. They are natural products of the early romantic movement of archaeolatry, which seals the period, but also repercussions of the contemporary tendency for painting antique ruins. Even in the nineteenth century, the romantic visions inevitably lead to representations, which ignore reality or seem to deny the immediate, tangible presence of a depicted monument, since they intentionally pursue to exalt the ancient edifice or to create an artificial, more or less illusionistic,”atmosphere”.