Le Roy, Julien DavidLe Roy Arh.te de.l in Greciâ. Le Bas Sculp. The Erechtheum, Athens. Architectural details of theErechtheum, Athens. Paris chez H.L. Guerin & L.F. Delatour, J.L. Nyon/ Jean Neaulme 1758
Copper engraved architectural detail of the Erechtheum, Athens from Le Roy's "Les Ruines des Plus Beaux Monuments de la Grece ." Black and white, verso blank. The plate shows the façade of the Erechtheum, showing the whole temple with the North Ionic porch and the South porch with the Caryatids.
The temple was built between 421 and 406 BC.The need to preserve multiple adjacent sacred precincts likely explains the complex design. The main structure consists of up to four compartments, the largest being the east cella, with an Ionic portico on its east end. On the north side, there is another large porch with six Ionic columns, and on the south, the famous "Porch of the Maidens", with six draped female figures (caryatids) as supporting columns. The porch was built to conceal the giant 15-ft beam needed to support the southwest corner over the metropolis, after the building was drastically reduced in size and budget following the onset of the Peloponnesian war. Good impression; a couple of spots not within engraved area plate ; wormhole to extreme lower left edge of page, far from image.
Julien David Le Roy (1724-1803) was a French architect and archaeologist. "Les Ruines des Plus Beaux Monuments de la Grece," issued in 1758, first revealed to European eyes the wonders of Greek classical architecture. Overnight, Greece became the rage, much to the chagrin of Giovanni Battista Piranesi and other defenders of the genius of Rome. Le Roy was to become engaged in a strong rivalry with Society of Dillitanti members James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, particularly to produce the first professional description of the Acropolis since that of by Antoine Desgodetz published in 1682.
A winner of the Prix de Rome in 1750, Julien-David Le Roy was a historian and pensionnaire at the French Academy in Rome, where he had the opportunity to study its architecture firsthand. It was there that he learned of Stuart and Revett's proposed book and their trip to Greece in 1751-1753. Receiving permission from the Ottoman Turks in Constantinople, he himself hurried to Athens early in 1755, where for three hectic months he surveyed and drew the principal classical monuments there, including those on the Acropolis. Stuart and Revett had been researching Athens since 1748 but Le Roy had an advantage in accessing the ruins due to good relations between France and the Ottoman Empire. Le Roy's studies,were supported by the Comte de Caylus and his art circle. The finest engravers and architects were recruited to produce the illustrations'
Published in advance of Stuart's and Revett's "Antiquities of Athens", which appeared in 1762, Le Roy's work introduced the architecture of classical Athens to Western Europe. Le Roy's work provoked strident criticism from Stuart' in the preface to "Antiquities of Athens", Stuart declared that he, at least, was determined "to avoid Haste, and System, those most dangerous enemies to accuracy and fidelity, for we had frequently, with great regret, observed their bad effects in many, otherwise excellent, Works of this kind." Railing against Le Roy, every misunderstanding and inaccuracy were itemized. There were insinuations of plagiarism and charges that descriptions had been taken from others and not made directly, as well as failures to recognize monuments for what they were (e.g., the gateway to the Roman Agora and Hadrian's Library). On his own admission Le Roy was less concerned with precise measuring and recording than he was with conveying the soul of the antiquities, showing them the context of their surroundings
With the publication of "Les Ruines", Le Roy was elected a member of the Royal Academy of Architects. Stuart's criticisms were sufficiently pointed that Le Roy felt obliged to publish a response ("Observations sur les édifices desanciens peuples") and, in 1770, a second edition of his work—this time with footnotes, quotations in Greek and Latin, and references. There also was a riposte to Stuart, who, he felt, saw the only merit of publishing a book on Greek monuments as providing their exact measurements—and doing so too often.
"The ruins of antiquity may be looked at in widely differing ways. In publishing them, one may undertake no more than a slavish record of their dimensions; and the most scrupulous accuracy in doing so is, in Mr. Stuart's opinion, almost the only merit that a book of this kind can possess. My journey, I confess, was undertaken with very different ends in view; I would never have traveled to Greece simply to observe the relations of the buildings and their parts with the subdivisions of our foot. Such a claim to fame I gladly resign to anyone who desires it and aspires to nothing higher....As for the vast quantity of plates with which works of the present kind are sometimes laden, these often convey nothing to the public beyond the industry or the want of taste of those who have measured the monuments" (Preface, Vol. I).
In the much-expanded edition of 1770,Le Roy wrote two highly provocative theoretical essays. In one,he set forth a compelling linear history of the conceptual forms of architecture that began in Egypt, moved to Greece, then Rome, and finally modern Europe. In the other, seeking to express the experience of architectural form and its effects, Le Roy gave new voice to feeling.
Blackmer/ Navari :1009; Atabey 709;Cohen de-Ricci 627. 300 by 463mm (11¾ by 18¼ inches).
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