Stuart - Athens v1-4

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Athens v1

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'.
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Athens v2 image

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.
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Athens v3

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.
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Athens v4

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 Greece.
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Detail. Stuart, James.The antiquities of Athens, measured and delineated. Priestley and Weale, 1825-1830.

Detail. Stuart, James.
The antiquities of Athens, measured and delineated. Priestley and Weale, 1825-1830.
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