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Voyage pittoresque de la Grèce, Tome 1

Cover of the book Voyage pittoresque de la Grèce, Tome 1
Page of the book Voyage pittoresque de la Grèce, Tome 1
Page of the book Voyage pittoresque de la Grèce, Tome 1

The Voyage pittoresque de la Grèce, Tome 1 is one of the most important touring books on Greece. It presents 18th century Greece through vivid descriptions and beautiful chalcography prints. This original 1st edition from 1782 is extremely valuable, and constitutes a landmark for travel literature. The author, Choiseul-Gouffier, was a notable French historian and diplomat.

External appearance and illustrations

The book Voyage pittoresque de la Grèce, Tome 1 is 38 cm (width) x 53 cm (height).

The book is illustrated with paintings by French painter Jean-Baptiste Hilaire. It includes a significant number of chalcography prints, accompanied by explanatory comments.

A picturesque journey in Greece

In 1776 and 1785, French historian, philosopher and printmaker Choiseul-Gouffier toured Ottoman-occupied Greece and the coastlines of Asia Minor. He was then able to transfer his travel experience in the 2 volumes of his book, with the help of texts and images.

The book includes:

  • Archaeological sites, castles and temples in Greece and Asia Minor.
  • Maps and diagrams.
  • Customs of the people and local clothing.
  • Natural and astronomical phenomena.

The tour of the Aegean in 1 volume

The 1st volume mainly describes the 1st trip. From Toulon in France, French frigate Atalante sailed to Sardinia, Malta and Sicily, berthing at Koroni. The trip continued on to the islands of Kimolos, Milos, Sifnos, Sikinos, Ios, Thera, Naxos, Tinos, Syros, Delos, Paros, Antiparos, Skyros, Lemnos, Chios, Samos, Patmos, Kos, Rhodes and Symi.

After passing from Çeşme, opposite Chios, and Makri (present-day Fethiye), Choiseul-Gouffier continued his travels in west Asia Minor: Telmessos, Mylasa, Stratonicea, Bodrum, Iassos, Heraclea at Latmus, Didyma, Priene, Miletus, Ephesus, Teos and Smyrna.

Choiseul-Gouffier’s descriptions are lively and vibrant. His style is in pure harmony with his subjects. The book also includes a prologue, with a strong Philhellenic character.

Gouffier’s 2nd trip is included in the 2nd volume of the book. The incomplete 3rd volume was published many years after the author’s death. It included topographical plans, monuments and coins of Troy.

A point of reference for the touring literature

The book Voyage pittoresque de la Grèce is the most well-documented study and recording of the Greek territory in the 18th century. It is based on texts from ancient historians and poets, but mainly on the field research of the author. This important book was a landmark in the evolution of touring literature, influencing all subsequent publications.

The subjects of the prints were copied in other travel books. The illustrations, especially those of insular Greece, are still considered very representative. They offer a vivid image of the Greek landscapes and their people.

Choiseul-Gouffier was rightfully honoured for his work by the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. After all, this book was his life’s work.

A versatile writer

Besides being a historian, Choiseul-Gouffier was one of the most competent diplomats of the French Empire.

As an ambassador of Louis XVI, he accomplished an important achievement: When the long-lasting friendship between France and the Ottoman Empire came to an end, he succeeded in adding 10 articles to the Capitulations, i.e. the agreements that regulated French shipping in the Black Sea.

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