Stuart - Athens v1-4
In 1742 James Stuart went to London where he met Nicholas Revett. With
support from English travellers and residents in Rome, they raised funds
and issued proposals for a new and accurate description of the Antiquities
&c. in the Province of Attica'. Like Fréart de Chambray,
Stuart believed that Greece, not Rome, should be the paragon. Between
1751 and 1753 the two Englishmen painstakingly surveyed the buildings
of Greece. This, the much awaited volume of 1762, describes minor buildings.
Though it fell short of expectation it did have significant impact. Over
the next fifty-four years three subsequent volumes were published fuelling
the gusto Greco'.
Published shortly after James Stuart's death, the acclaimed second
volume of The antiquities of Athens
was devoted to the Acropolis.
This is dealt with in the precise, if somewhat lifeless, neoclassical
spirit. Both Stuart and Revett were members of the Society of the Dilettanti
which had been formed in 1732 as a convivial meeting group for Englishmen
on the Grand Tour. By the 1760s, the society sponsored archaeological
expedition and publication. It produced the two volume Ionian Antiquities
in 1769 and 1797.
Prior to the work of Stuart and Revett, knowledge of the antiquities
of Greece and Asia Minor was somewhat limited. Small and sketchy drawings,
such as those by Spon and Wheler from the middle of the 17th century,
had been the principal source of knowledge of the architecture of Asia
Minor. The smaller image of the Acropolis shown alongside is from Spon's
Voyage d'Italie, et Dalmatie, de Grèce, et du Levant fait
aux années 1675 et 1676, (1724). A 1676 edition of this work is
held in the de Beer Collection.
Following the scientific and archaeologic approach of Desgodets in his
Edifices Antiques de Rome (1682), Stuart sought to provide a definitive
theory of architecture. This did not happen. Instead Athenian Stuart',
as he became known, was responsible for the highly imitative replicas
of Greek monuments that punctuate the Picturesque landscape in the 18th
century. These volumes by Stuart were the result of his 1751-53 trip to