Archaeological Illustrations: A New Development in 19th Century Science (1)

By Lewuillon, Serge | Antiquity, March 2002 | Go to article overview

Archaeological Illustrations: A New Development in 19th Century Science (1)


Lewuillon, Serge, Antiquity


A museum on paper

A recent colloquium on French archaeology in the second half of the 19th century drew attention to the work of a talented illustrator, Victor Caucheme, several of whose watercolours may be seen at the museum in Compiegne. Additional research, intended to place this painter-archaeologist in historical context, showed that his situation was not unique and that, during the same period, in France well as elsewhere in Europe, there was a surge of interest in reproductions of objects and of archaeological sites. This is not to be confused with the fashion for romantic landscapes, of which Baron Taylor's Voyages dans l'ancienne France serves as a good example (Adhemar 1997), nor with the passion for monuments, as shown by the imposing collection of Laborde (Laborde 1816-1836). Rather, this activity was the doing of an archaeological school which, for three-quarters of a century, set out to explore the meaning of archaeological excavation and their associated finds.

The career of Victor Caucheme and others like him, such as the classical Francois Thiollet (Thiollet 1847-1859) or the innovative Charles Cournault (Collectif 1999), was no longer one of armchair scholars: these are rather a new generation of researchers which appeared during the Second Empire. Drawn to archaeology by personal interest, and later confirmed in this path through their activities in various learned societies, these new-style scholars became noted for their activities in the fields of archaeological excavation or conservation, in the course of which they compiled an impressive amount of documentation. Their portfolios of watercolours enriched an already burgeoning European production, rich in artistic and technical innovations, especially in the second half of the 19th century. In spite of the quality and the volume of the results they achieved, their efforts in the service of archaeological research have until now gone unnoticed.

The drawings made by this new school of archaeologists had neither technical nor artistic objectives but they were already in themselves bearers of meaning: the intrinsic meaning of the object, but also the meaning of collection sconsidered as coherent entities, able to suggest connections and similarities between cultures. The beautiful albums they produced are far more than moving collections of archived drawings: they testify to a vast historiographic undertaking whose time had not yet come. Indeed, comparative archaeology did not meet the success which several researchers had ambitiously predicted: the Salle de Mars at the Musee des antiquites nationales at Saint-Germain-en-Laye remained a half-fulfilled promise, and the project of its curator Henri Hubert disappeared completely with his death. The materials, however, remained: during the last third of the 19th century, the likes of de Ring, Chantre, Flouest and Cournault combed the museums of Europe in order to assemble, arrange and display the most widely varied collection of objects. With their rationalized collecting, these scholars postulated that archaeological collections would achieve their full value through the comparisons of the objects within them. A veritable `museum on paper' was thereby assembled through images, and put at the service of an ambitious comparative project.

The sense of the image

Unfortunately, this massive documentation -- estimated at more than 20,000 plates, printed books and originals together -- did not meet with the expected success among the scholarly community, and most editions remained very limited (several hundred copies at the most). So much energy spent for such meagre results! There are three distinct axes along which this paradoxical situation could be analysed. The first concerns scientific principles. These archaeological drawings were obviously not whimsical: the learned illustrators who produced them rather followed the highly ambitious and concrete goal of replacing each archaeological object in its wider cultural context. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Archaeological Illustrations: A New Development in 19th Century Science (1)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.