Views in Greece, from Drawings
The rare book Views in Greece, from Drawings features a complete representation of the Greek territory before the Revolution of 1821. Irish archaeologist and painter Edward Dodwell travelled to Greece and captured views from the life in the country in 30 paintings. The works are accurate representations of their subjects, owing to the innovative camera obscura technique used by the artist and author.
External appearance and illustrations
The book Views in Greece, from Drawings is 41 cm (width) x 50 cm (height). It is a 1st edition. It comprises 2 volumes and is in near fine condition.
It features 30 exceptionally realistic colour lithographs, with themes from 19th century Greece. They are divided into 6 sections. The pictures are accompanied by text in English and French.
Views of Greece
Irish archaeologist and painter Edward Dodwell travelled to Greece between 1801 and 1806, capturing images from the life of the country. He painted landscapes, monuments, people, professions, customs, etc. He drew an estimated 400 paintings with Greek themes. Adding the paintings created by his assistants, the total production was close to 1,000 paintings.
The 30 colour lithographs of the publication Views in Greece, from Drawings were created between 1819 and 1821, based on the original paintings. The goal was to include 60 paintings, divided into 12 sections. However, the endeavour was reduced to half, due to financial reasons.
Greek light from the dark room
Edward Dodwell used a portable camera obscura for his drawings. This invention was a precursor to the photographic camera.
It consisted of a darkened box with a hole on one side. The light from the objects of the external environment passed through the hole, hitting the opposite side of the box. Objects would be projected on that side inverted and reversed. Then, they were traced onto paper, with vivid colours and true perspective. This allowed for an exceptionally accurate representation by the artist.
Dodwell combined the advantages of the camera obscura with the art of lithography. As such, the 30 lithographs included in Views in Greece, from Drawings are presented in absolute realism. This is why, from then on, the book became a necessity for anyone travelling to Greece. Even today it is still considered a useful source for archaeological research.
The Alpha Bank Library also holds the rare book A Classical and Topographical Tour through Greece by Edward Dodwell.
A book in the spirit of its time: The Grand Tour
Dodwell’s trip to 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.