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Grèce.
Athens: Rhomaides frères, , c. 1895. Album of Forty-seven Large Original Collotype Photographs Including Five Panoramas of Southern Greece. Landscape quarto (260 x 355 mm). Contemporary brown hard-grain morocco over bevelled boards by Albert Hautecoeur of Paris, spine with five raised bands, single-line blind paneling on sides, lettered "Grèce" in gilt on front cover, gilt edges, richly gilt turn-ins, gilt-patterned burgundy endpapers. 47 original collotype prints: 5 folding panoramic views (2 in 3 parts, 212 x 780-880 mm; 3 in 2 parts, 212 x 560 mm), 38 other views (218 x 282 mm), 3 of classical statuary, 1 of a classical relief (285 x 210 mm), a few with captions or numbers signed in negative by the studio or printed on versos, all mounted (recto and verso) on thick card stock, white cloth hinges. The panoramic views show Piraeus, the Archeological Site of Olympia (both in 3 parts), Athens, Nafplio ("Neuplie") and Delphi. Captioned photographs: Panorama du Pirée; Panorama d'Athènes; Panorama d'Olympie en 3 pièces; Panorama de Neuplie; Vue générale de l'Ancienne Delphes. Hautecoeur's ticket overstamped with a "smiley face" (repeated at top fore-corner of following leaf), a few scrapes and light abrasions to binding, light bump to one corner, touch of foxing to periphery of mounts, but overall very good, the prints in excellent condition. A very fine album of superior photographs from the renowned studio of the Rhomaides Brothers - presented here in an elegantly sober binding by Albert Hautecoeur, one of the premier Parisian print and photograph dealers – including some fine panoramic views and scenes at the great archaeological sites of Athens and Mycenae. Twenty images show the area in and around the Acropolis, including several views of the Parthenon, two of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (one showing the façade, the other the amphitheatre), the Temple of Zeus, the Tower of Winds, the Arch of Hadrian, the choragic Monument of Lysicrates, row of four Ionic columns in the Roman Agora, and the Bull of Dionysios of Kollitos (in situ on the "street of tombs", the original now housed in the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum). Another view looks across the speaker's platform on the rock-cut scarp of the Pnyx – the "cradle of Athenian demoracy", where early democratic assemblies were held; another shows one of the slopes of the Acropolis, the raking light making clearly visible the niches where worshippers would place votive offerings to the gods: "The slopes, caves and plateaus of the Acropolis hill were the settings in which gods, heroes and nymphs were worshipped" (The Acropolis Museum online). A further five scenes show sights in Athens, including two views of the city and three of contemporary buildings: the Greek Parliament, the current National Historical Museum (founded 1882, formerly the Old Parliament House) and the Hotel Grande Bretagne (originally built in 1842 as a private house, bought and restored as a hotel in 1874). Also featured are landscapes taken at Nafplio (on the Argolic Gulf, northeast Peloponnese), Delphi, and Corinth (the Temple of Apollo and a fine view of a boat traversing the Corinth Canal, completed in 1893); these are followed by five images of ancient ruins at Mycenae, including the famous Lion Gate. Heinrich Schliemann had begun excavation here in August 1876, albeit initially without the permission of the Archaeological Society of Athens, uncovering ancient shaft graves and the spectacular Mask of Agamemnon. His work was recorded extensively with photographs and plans, the principal photographers being the Rhomaides Brothers, who "exhibited an album of these images at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1878" (The Getty Research Institute online); the National Library of Scotland holds a number of Rhomaides albums of Mycenae. Two, apparently featureless, views may show the burial mound and battlefield at Marathon. The album opens with a quite stunning panorama of Piraeus, with ships in the harbour and two warships (one flying a signal flag: a saltire, meaning "my vessel is stopped and making no way through the water"). The photographs of ancient Greek statuary that close the album include the Varvakeion Athena (a Roman marble copy of the lost Athena Parthenos), Nike of Paionios (a reconstruction of the original), and Hermes and the Infant Dionysus (attributed to Praxiteles and discovered by German archaeologist Ernst Curtius in 1877); the frieze depicts Nike adjusting her sandal. "By 1875 photography in Greece was not restricted within the boundaries of the country's capital. Photographic studios were also found on islands such as Syros and Crete and in other cities such as Corinth and Patra. The Rhomaides Brothers (Konstantinos and Aristotelis), originally from Bucharest, opened a studio in Ioannina and subsequently settled in Patras. In 1875 they undertook the photographing of the excavations at Olympia carried out by the German Archaeological Institute [under Ernst Curtius, published as Die Ausgrabungen zu Olympia (1876-1881)]. This collaboration led to their specializing in Greek archaeological photography, which is why they were employed almost exclusively by most of the archaeological schools operating in Greece at that time. They established themselves in Athens in 1876 while retaining, at the same time, their studio in Patras. The Rhomaides Brothers also won fame as portrait photographers, recording for posterity many of the prominent people of their time. Well-known photographers, such as Ioannis Xanthakis and Antonis Milionis, received their training in their studio" (Aliki Tsirgialou in Encyclopaedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, 2008, I p. 619). As a testament to the photographing of antiquity this is a superb exemplar, containing as it does some spectacular views, captured by the pioneering Rhomaides Brothers, whose pin-sharp recording, deriving from their close working relationship with Schliemann and the German Archaeological Institute, carried over into their work for the tourist market. "Like Egypt, Greece attracted some of the very earliest practitioners of photography, and they went directly to the most famous city, Athens, and its most renowned ruins… At that time, when the medium was in its infancy, writers frequently alluded to the evocative power of the photographic image, to which long habituation had dulled our response" (Andrew Szegedy-Maszak in Antiquity & Photography: Early Views of Ancient Mediterranean Sites, 2005, p. 13). This is particularly true of the later work of the Rhomaides Brothers, covering the newly discovered splendours of Greek civilization and giving greater resonance to Poe's timeless eulogy, encapsulated in the line: "the glory that was Greece".
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2018-02-01           Check availability:      Biblio    

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