Early Views of Ancient Mediterranean Sites


Antiquity and Photography: Early Views of Ancient Mediterranean Sites

Claire L. Lyons, John K. Papadopoulos, Lindsey S. Stewart, and Andrew Szegedy-Maszak


240 pages

PDF file size: 32.1 MB


The invention of the daguerreotype and calotype processes fundamentally changed scholarly and aesthetic approaches to the past. The accuracy and immediacy of photographs gave scientists a new means to document and study ancient architecture, artifacts, and language. At the same, the first photographers to visit ancient Mediterranean sites saw themselves as artists using the new medium to capture what had up to then been represented only by draftsmen or painters. The early photographs were rapidly disseminated among a wider audience eager to see, rather than merely imagine, the remnants of antiquity. Today these images are still prized, both for their vision and originality and for their inherent documentary value. The early photographs of the Roman Forum, the Acropolis in Athens, and the pyramids of Giza have made these sites a part of our shared cultural experience, fixing them in our minds as places of historic—and mythic—significance.

Antiquity and Photography explores the influence of photography on archaeology between 1840 and 1880. This was the period that saw the evolution of archaeology as a professional discipline as well as the rapid growth of the new photographic medium. With illustrations drawn from the collections of the Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute, the essays in this book examine the growth of archaeology as a scientific discipline and its increasing reliance on photographic documentation, and they consider some of the conventions that came to govern the ostensibly objective photographs of antiquities and ancient sites. Biographical essays explore the careers of two major early photographers, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey and William James Stillman. In addition, portfolios with works by Maxime Du Camp, John Beasley Greene, Francis Frith, Robert Macpherson, Adolphe Braun, and others testify to the strength and consistency of other early photographers who captured the antique worlds around the Mediterranean.

Table of Contents

  • Abbreviations
  • Foreword
    William Griswold and Thomas Crow
  • Preface
    Marion True and Weston Naef
  • Map of the Mediterranean
  • Introduction
    Andrew Szegedy-Maszak
  • The Art and Science of Antiquity in Nineteenth-century Photography
    Claire L. Lyons
  • In Perfect Order: Antiquity in the Daguerreotypes of Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey
    Lindsey S. Stewart
  • Portfolio: Plates I–VIII
    Maxime Du Camp, Félix Teynard, John Beasley Greene, Gustave Le Gray, Francis Frith
  • Antiquity Depicted
    John K. Papadopoulos
  • An American on the Acropolis: William James Stillman
    Andrew Szegedy-Maszak
  • Portfolio: Plates IX–XVI
    Robert Macpherson; Giorgio Sommer; Tommaso Cuccioni; Braun, Clément et Cie
  • Notes
  • Index

About the Authors

Claire L. Lyons is collections curator at the Getty Research Institute.

John K. Papadopoulos is professor of classics and archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Lindsey S. Stewart is an independent photography consultant.

Andrew Szegedy-Maszak is professor of classical studies at Wesleyan University.