Select Views in Greece with Classical Illustrations
The book Select Views in Greece with Classical Illustrations, Vol. 1 features 64 chalcography prints from HW Williams’ trip to Greece (1816-1818). The painter travelled to Italy, northern Peloponnese, continental Greece and the Ionian Islands. He was given the nickname “the Grecian Williams”, for showcasing the Greek landscapes in his personal style.
External appearance and illustrations
The book Select Views in Greece with Classical Illustrations, Vol. 1 is 26 cm (width) x 44 cm (height).
It features 64 chalcography prints of hight aesthetic value from the travels of painter HW Williams to Greece, over the period 1816-1818.
References to classical writers
The book is a significant travel book, created at the onset of the Greek Revolution. Williams has included many references to Greek and Latin writers, as well as British poets. Those references are considered of equal value to his artistic achievements.
The travelling painter
Hugh William Williams (1773-1829) was a British painter from an old and wealthy Scottish family. In 1784 he started living with his grandmother in Scotland. He became a painter with the help and support of his grandparents. He mainly worked with water colours. In his early artistic years, he was mostly inspired by the mountainous landscapes of Scotland.
Between 1816 and 1818, Williams made a trip that would mark his life forever. He travelled to Italy, northern Peloponnese, continental Greece and the Ionian Islands.
In 1819 he started publishing his memoirs from the trips. In 1822 he held an exhibition in Edinburgh, where the majority of his pieces are found, themed exclusively after Greece.
The Grecian Williams
His particular personal style showcases the Greek landscape and its monuments. Williams was able to uniquely combine the Greek landscape with:
- Pale colours.
- The power of the Ionic and Doric monuments, the contours of which contrast with the Greek light.
For these reasons, the painter earned the nickname Grecian Williams.
A book in the spirit of its time: The Grand Tour
HW Williams’ trip and work in 19th century Greece is part of a more general trend of cultural touring.
For a long period over the 18th and 19th century, young, wealthy European aristocrats travelled all over Greece. They were accompanied by friends, servants, tutors, doctors, artists and scientists. This type of travelling was called the “Grand Tour”.
In their visits to Greece, the travellers:
- Engaged in nature-watching.
- Admired ancient ruins and monuments.
- Expressed interest in native traditions and behaviours.
- Drew inspiration from Greek philosophy and were charmed by Greek mythology.
Then, the travellers would write an account of their impressions, drawing pictures and paintings of everything they had seen. However, oftentimes they also composed quite complex scientific works.