The Shifting Perceptions of Ancient Culture ; as Classical Education Fades Away, Collectors Shift Their Focus

By Melikian, Souren | International Herald Tribune, May 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

The Shifting Perceptions of Ancient Culture ; as Classical Education Fades Away, Collectors Shift Their Focus


Melikian, Souren, International Herald Tribune


Edward Dodwell's approach to Ancient Greece offers a startling contrast to the way in which enlightened collectors of recent decades have been responding to artifacts from the Greek and Roman world.

The Western world is about to turn its back on a 600-year-old tradition that molded the mind-set of its cultivated elites until the last century.

How profound the attraction of ancient Greek culture was on the European establishment is revealed in a brilliant book published in conjunction with a British Museum show, "In Search of Classical Greece," that ended last week. John Camp, the renowned American archaeologist, describes in the book the passionate recording campaign in which an Englishman, Edward Dodwell, accompanied by the Italian artist Simone Pomardi, drew all the ancient monuments they came across from 1805 to 1806.

Dodwell's approach to ancient Greece offers a startling contrast to the way in which enlightened collectors of recent decades have been responding to excavated artifacts from the Greek and Roman world, as was made clear at the Bonhams auction of "Antiquities" held Wednesday.

The story of Dodwell reads like an English novel of the Romantic age. Having obtained a bachelor of arts degree from Cambridge University in 1800 at age 22 or 23, he took a long trip to Greece a year later. Soon after his return to England, he left the country again, this time heading for Rome, which would be his home until his death in 1832. The Englishman, who clearly belonged to the upper class, took up his quarters at the Palazzo Doria. His marriage in 1816 to the daughter of Count Giovanni Giraud, a famous beauty in Roman society, leaves no doubt about his social status.

But Dodwell was no gadfly in the style of P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster. In his day, a top university education up to the bachelor's of arts level usually implied immersion in ancient Greek and Latin literature. In his account of Greek sites, "A Classical and Topographical Tour Through Greece," published in 1819, the traveler used 50 different ancient sources. Mr. Camp notes that in the diary of his 1801 trip, young Dodwell quoted Tacitus in a manner that reveals intimate familiarity with the Roman historian's text.

Yet the Briton was anything but a bookworm. His education had included mastering the rudiments of drawing. Helped by Pomardi, who was admired for his views of Rome, and progressing as he went on, the Englishman brought back impeccably documentary images. He evidently had hit it off with the Italian painter, who was his elder by 20 years.

Kim Sloan, the British Museum curator of British drawings preceding 1880, analyzes the watercolors reproduced in Mr. Camp's book. She quotes the relevant passages in Dodwell's 1819 publication and describes in detail the condition of the sites and monuments then and now.

Dodwell's passion for ancient Greece comes across forcefully in his notations. He vents his fury at witnessing the damage caused to the Parthenon by Lord Elgin, who had just received an edict from the Ottoman sultan. It left his lordship at liberty to rip off the marble slabs carved in high relief, or "metopes," that crowned the top of the structure.

These "were fixed in between the triglyphs [rectangular stone blocks] as in a groove, and in order to lift them up it was necessary to throw to the ground the magnificent cornice by which they were covered," the traveler observed.

His denunciation is the more telling because Dodwell was an eager collector. He came to own some 150 pieces of stone from monuments in Greece picked up on the ground or dug up, plus 259 Egyptian pieces and 602 Greek, Etruscan and Roman objects essentially bought in Italy. The bulk of his collection, acquired after his death by King Ludwig I of Bavaria, can be seen in the Staatliche Antikensammlung in Munich -- barring objects destroyed by Allied bombing in World War II. These tragically included the imposing archaic urn painted with a frieze of lions bought by Dodwell at Mertese, near Corinth. …

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

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.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

The Shifting Perceptions of Ancient Culture ; as Classical Education Fades Away, Collectors Shift Their Focus
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.
    Buy instant access 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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.