2005 Clarence Ward Exhibition and Birthday Party

"Books for the Grand Tour: Architecture, Archaeology and the Dilettante."

Julien-David Le Roy

Le ruines des plus beaux monuments de la Grece, 1758

James Stuart and Nicholas Revett

The Antiquities of Athens, 1787

Le Roy was fired by both nationalistic pride and a highly theoretical method in leaving Rome in 1754, where he was studying at the French Academy as a winner of the Prix de Rome and publishing his competing measurements and documentation of Greek ruins before Stuart and Revett would complete the first volume of their Antiquities of Athens. His method aimed not at stifling accuracy but rather at a complex and at times ambiguous synthesis of historical, and scientific investigation in a search for constant aesthetic ideas observed in the development of historical forms. His work is an assemblage of travel journal, archaeology, and architectural history and theory, which moves discursively by comparing specific monuments to other formally similar monuments. A bitter exchange would ensue with Stuart and Revett over his text's supposed inaccuracies.

James Stuart, Nicholas Revett and Gavin Hamilton were part of the British expatriate community in Rome, studying painting for six or seven years before they decided to undertake a fully accurate and exhaustive documentation of the antiquities of ancient Greece, with Desgodets work as their standard. They enlisted the support of the English Society of the Dillettanti and were urged on by the celebrated classicists and travelers, James Dawkins and Robert Wood. There was great expectation for their project; highly published throughout learned circles in Europe. However, the ensuing and protracted debate with Le Roy (concerned with the identification of a monument noted by Vitruvius) and other diplomatic and financial obstacles helped to produce a somewhat disappointing outcome in comparison with their initial plans.

This view of the Parthenon illustrates the contemporary situation of the building, the mosque inserted within and the crowd of later vulgar buildings around. Their work accurately documented the ruins and the conditions of the surviving architecture faithfully and truthfully, leading the way for later archaeological exploration of Greek antiquities.