James Stuart, Preface, in Stuart-Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, John Haberkorn, London 1762

The ruined Edifices of Rome have for many years engaged the attention of those  who apply themselves to the study of Architecture; and have generally been considered, as the Models and Standard of regular and ornamental Building. Many representations of them drawn and engraved by skilful Artists have been published, by which means the Study of the Art has been every where greatly facilitated, and the general practice of it improved and promoted. Insomuch that what is now esteemed the most elegant manner of decorating Buildings, was originally formed, and has been since established on Examples, which the Antiquities of Rome have furnished.

Stuart - Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, II, London 1787

Stuart – Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, II, London 1787

But altho’ the World is enriched with Collections of this sort already published, we thought it would be a Work not unacceptable to the lovers of Architecture, if we added to those Collections, some Examples drawn from the Antiquities of Greece; and we were confirmed in our opinion by this consideration principally, that as Greece was the great Mistress of the Arts, and Rome, in this respect, no more than her disciple, it may be presumed, all the most admired Buildings which adorned that imperial City, were but imitations of Grecian Originals.

Hence it seemed probable that if accurate Representations of these Originals were published, the World would be enabled to form, not only more extensive, but juster Ideas than have hitherto been obtained, concerning Architecture, and the state in which it existed during the best ages of antiquity. It even seemed that a performance of this kind might contribute to the improvement of the Art itself, which at present appears to be founded on too partial and too scanty a syftem of ancient Examples.

For during those Ages of violence and barbarism, which began with the declension, and continued long after the destruction of the Roman Empire, the beautiful edifices which had been erected in Italy with such great labour and expence, were neglected or destroyed; so that, to use a very common expression, it may truly be faid, that Architecture lay for Ages buried in its own ruins; and altho’ from these Ruins, it has Phenix-like received a second birth, we may nevertheless conclude, that many of the beauties and elegancies which enhanced its ancient Splendor, are still wanting, and that it has not yet by any means recovered all its former Perfection.

Stuart - Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, II, London 1787

Stuart – Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, II, London 1787

This Conclusion becomes sufficiently obvious, when we consider that the great Artifts, by whose industry this noble Art has been revived, were obliged to shape its present Form, after those Ideas only, which the casual remains of Italy suggested to them; and these Remains are fo far from furnishing all the materials necessary for a complete Restoration of Architecture in all its parts, that the best collections of them, those published by Palladio and Desgodetz, cannot be said to afford a sufficient variety of Examples for restoring even the three Orders of Columns; for they are deficient in what relates to the Doric and Ionic, the two most ancient of these Orders.

If from what has been said it should appear, that Architecture is reduced and restrained within narrower limits than could be wished, for want of a greater number of ancient Examples than have hitherto been published; it must then be granted, that every such Example of beautiful Form or Proportion, wherever it may be found, is a valuable addition to the former Stock; and does, when published, become a material acquisition to the Art.

But of all the Countries, which were embellished by the Ancients with magnificent Buildings, Greece appears principally to merit our Attention; since, if we believe the Ancients themselves, the moft beautiful Orders and Dispositions of Columns were invented in that Country, and the most celebrated Works of Architecture were erected there: to which may be added that the most excellent Treatises on the Art appear to have been written by Grecian Architects.

Stuart - Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, I, London 1762

Stuart – Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, I, London 1762

The City of Greece most renowned for slately Edifices, for the Genius of its Inhabitants, and for the culture of every Art, was Athens. We therefore resolved to examine that Spot rather than any other; flattering ourselves, that the remains we might find there, would excel in true Taste and Elegance every thing hitherto published. How far indeed these Expectations have been answered, must now be submitted to the opinion of the Public.

Yet since the Authorities and Reasons, which engaged us to conceive fo highly of the Athenian Buildings, may serve likewife to guard them, in some measure, from the over-hasty opinions and unadvised censures of the Inconsiderate; it may not be amiss to produce some of them in this place. And we the rather wish to say something a little more at large on this subject, as it will be at the same time an apology for ourselves, and perhaps the best judication of our undertaking.

After the defeat of Xerxes, the Grecians, secure from Invaders and in full possession of their Liberty, arrived at the height of their Prosperity. It was then, they applied themselves with the greatest assiduity and success to the culture of the Arts. They maintained their Independency and their Power for a considerable space of time, and distinguished themselves by a pre-eminence and universality of Genius, unknown to other Ages and Nations.

Stuart - Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, I, London 1762

Stuart – Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, I, London 1762

During this happy period, their most renowned Artists were produced. Sculpture and Architecture attained their highest degree of excellence at Athens in the time of Pericles, when Phidias distinguished himself with such superior ability, that his works were considered as wonders by the Ancients so long as any knowledge or taste remained among them. His Statue of Jupiter Olympius we are told was never equalled; and it was under his inspection that many of the most celebrated Buildings of Athens were erected. Several Artists of most distinguished talents were his contemporaries, among whom we may reckon Callimachus, an Athenian, the inventor of the Corinthian Capital. After this, a succession of excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects appeared, and these Arts continued in Greece, at their highest perfection, till after the death of Alexander the Great.

Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, it should be observed, remained all that time in a very rude and imperfect State among the Italians.

But when the Romans had subdued Greece, they soon became enamoured of these delightful Arts. They adorned their City with Statues and Pictures, the Spoils of that conquered Country; and, adopting the Grecian Style of Archtecture, they now first began to erect Buildings of great Elegance and Magnificence. They seem not however to have equalled the Originals from whence they had borrowed their Taste, either for purity of Design, or delicacy of Execution.

For altho’ these Roman Edifices were most probably designed and executed by Grecians, as Rome never produced many extraordinary Artists of her own, yet Greece herself was at that time greatly degenerated from her former excellence, and had long ceased to display that superiority of Genius, which distinguished her in the Age of Pericles and of Alexander. To this a long series os Misfortunes had reduced her, for having been opprefssed by the Macedonians first, and afterwards subdued by the Romans, with the loss of her Liberty, that love of Glory likewife, and that sublimity of Spirit which had animated her Artists, as well as her Warriors, her Statesmen, and her Philosophers, and wich had formed her peculiar Character, were now extinguished, and all her exquisite Arts languished and were near expiring.

Stuart - Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, London 1762

Stuart – Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, London 1762

They were indeed at length assiduoufly cherished and cultivated at Rome. That City being now Mistress of the World, and possessed of unbounded Wealth and Power, became ambitious also of the utmost embellishments which these Arts could bestow. They could not however, tho’ assisted by Roman Munificence, reascend to that height of Perfection, which they had attained in Greece during the happy period we have already mentioned. And it is particularly remarkable, that when the Roman Authors themselves, celebrate any exquisite production of Art; it is the Work of Phidias, Praxiteles, Myron, Lysippus, Zeuxis, Apelles, or in brief of some Artift, who adorned that happy Period; and not of those, who had worked at Rome, or had lived nearer to their own times than the Age of Alexander.

It seemed therefore evident that Greece is the Place where the most beautiful Edifices were erected, and where the purest and most elegant Examples of ancient Architecture are to be discovered.

But whether or no, it be allowed, that these Edifices deserved all the encomiums which have been bestowed on them; it will certainly be a study of some delight and curiosity, to observe wherein the Grecian and Roman style of Building differ; for differ they certainly do; and to decide, by a judicious examination, which is the best. It is as useful, to attend the progress of an Art while it is improving; as to trace it back towards its first perfedion, when it has declined. In one of these lights, therefore, the Performance which we now offer to the Public, will, it is hoped, be well received.

These were some of the considerations which determined me, conjointly with Mr. Revett, to visit Athens, and to measure and delineate with all possible diligence, whatever we might find there, that deserved our attention. We were then at Rome, where we had already employed 6 or 7 years in the study of Painting, and there it was that towards the end of the year 1748, I first drew up a brief account, of our motives for undertaking this Work, of the form we proposed to give it, and of the subjects of which we then hoped to compose it. Many copies of this were disperfed by our Friends; and the general approbation these Proposals met with, confirmed us in our resolution.

The necessary preparations for our journey required some time. We did not fet out from Rome till the month of March 1750, and we arrived at Venice too late in the year for the Curran Ships, on boa one of wich we had designed to embark for Zant: this disappointment we perceived would necessarily  delay ourr proceedings for several Months. That so much of our time might not remam unemployed, we went to Pola in Istria, to examine the antiquities of that Place; assuring ourfelves, on the testimony of Palladio and Serlio, that they deserved our attention; and hoping, not only to indulge our curiosity, but to find materials there that would employ our vacant time, and enable us to produce to our Friends a proper Specimen of the manner, in which we proposed to execute our Athenian Work, nor were we disappointed in these expectations.

Stuart - Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, London 1762

Stuart – Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, London 1762

On our return from Pola to Venice, we were fill obliged to wait some Months for a convenient Passage; these delays however did not discourage us; we had the advantage of being known to Sir James Gray, who was at that time his Majesty’s Resident at Veniee. He was pleased to interest himself greatly in our Success, and was the first who fet on foot a Subscription for our intended Work. At lenght, on the 19 January, 1751, we embarked on board an English Ship, bound for the Island of Zant.

From Zant we continued our Voyage in a Vessel of that Island, and touching in our way at Chiarenza, Patrass, Pentagioi, and Vostizza, we arrived safely on March 11, N.S. at Corinth. After a short stay there, during wich we measured an ancient Temple and made some Views, we were informed that a Vessel of Egina was in the Port of Cenchrea, ready to sail with the first fair wind to Porto Lione, the ancient Pireus, once the most celebrated harbour of Athens. This was an opportumty not to be neglected; we crossed the Isthmus to Cenchrea, from whence our Vessel departed very early on the 16 of March N.S. we landed and dined at Megara, slept at Salamis, and on the 17 at night anchored in the Pireus. The next morning we were conduced from hence to Athens by a Greek, who resided there in quality of British Consul.

Our first Business at Athens was to visit the Antiquities which remain there; and we were happy enough to find, that they fully answered our highest expectations. We therefore resolved that we would spare no expence or fatigue, that might any way contribute to the better execution of the Task we had set ourselves. In particular we determined to avoid Haste, and Syftem, those most dangerous enemies to accuracy and fidelity, for we had frequently, with great regret, observed their bad effect in many, otherwise excellent, Works of this kind. We have no where obtruded a Line of imaginary Restoratiotion the Reader; but whenever the ruined parts of these Buildings are supplied, either from Materials found on the Spot, or from what our own Ideas have suggested, (very few instanccs of the latter will occur) the Reader is apprised of it, and the reasons, or authorities for such Restoration are always produced. We have carefully examined as low as to the Foundation of every Building that we have copied, tho’ to perform this, it was generally necessary to get a great quantity of earth and rubbifh removed; an operation which was sometimes attended with very considerable expence.

We have contented ourselves with setting down the Measures of all these Buildings in English Feet and Inches, and decimal parts of an Inch; purposely forbearing to mention Modules, as they necessarily imply a System, and perhaps too frequently incline an Author to adopt one. Any Artist may however from our Measures form whatever kind of Module, or modulary division he best fancies, It may here be proper to observe, that we were provided with Instruments made in London, by the best Artists, one of which was a Rod of Brass, three feet long, most accurately divided by Mr. Bird.

We had been at Athens about two Months, when Mr. Dawkins and Mr. Wood arrived there; but we had not the happiness of seeing Mr. Bouverie with them, for that gentleman died in Asia Minor, and never visited the Antiquities of Athens, of Balbec, or of Palmyra. Signor Piranesi, a very excellent Italian Artist, uninformed it should seem of this Circumstance, has by mistake quoted part of a Letter, said to be written by this Gentleman from Ephesus, as if he thought it a sufficient Authority to prove, that there are no remains of Antiquity which deserve our notice, either in the Cities of Greece, or in any other Places of the Levant, whereas the Letter can only relate to those places which Mr. Bouverie had actually visited.

We quitted Athens at the end of the Year 1755, and went to Thessalonica, now called Salonica; where we were received, and treated for some Months with great hospitality, by P. Paradise, Esq; the British Consul at that place. Here we copied the remains of a very ancient and beautiful Corinthian Colonnade; and should have added to them fome remarkable Buildings supposed to be of the Age of Theodosius, but that a most destructive Pestilence, which broke out while we were here, rendered the measuring of them unsafe, and indeed impracticable. In our way from hence to Smyrna, we visited several of the Islands in the Egean Sea, corruptly called the Archipelago. From Smyrna we set out for England, where we arrived in the beginning of the Year 1755, having spent in all near five Years in this laborious and expensive Expedition from Rome to Athens, and from thence to London.

The Architectural Prints compofe, I imagine, the most useful and interesting part of this Work; and at the same time, that, which I apprehend is least liable to censure: for our joint endeavours were here diligently employed, and my Friend Mr. Revett wholly confined his attention to this part.

If nevertheless any one mould doubt of the accuracy of the Measures, because they differ so greatly from those which Mons. Le Roy has given, I can only assure him, that in a considerable number of them, at the taking of which I assisted with Mr. Revett, and in many others, which occasionally I measured after him, I have always found reason to praise his exactness.

It is now time to acknowledge that all the Mistakes and Inaccuracies, which the Reader may meet with in the Preface, or in the ensuing Chapters, are to be charged wholly to my Account. In each Chapter I have generally given the modern Athenian Name of the Antiquity there treated of, and also that by which it is mentioned in the writings of Sir George Wheler, and Dr. Spon. I have likewise added my own conjectures concerning its ancient Name, and the purpose for which it was erected. After this follows the Description of the Plates, and some observations on the errors of other Travellers, who have visited and described these Antiquities.

I must likewife answer for whatever faults have been committed, either in delineating the Sculptures, or painting the Views, which are engraven in this Work: my utmost diligence however has been used, to render them faithful Reprefentations of the Originals. The Sculptures were, for the most part, measured with the same care and exactness, that was bestowed on the Architecture. The Views were all finished on the spot; and in these, preferring Truth to every other consideration, I have taken none of those Liberties with which Painters are apt to indulge themselves, from a desire of rendering their representations of Places more agreeable to the Eye and better Pictures. Not an object is here embellished by strokes of Fancy, nor is the situation of any one of them changed, excepting only in the View of the Doric Portal where the Fountain on the Fore-ground is somewhat turned from its real position; the inducement to which will be given in the Description of that View. The Figures that are introduced in these Views are drawn from Nature, and represent the Dress and Appearance of the present Inhabitants of Athens.

Thus much for the Motives which engaged us in this Work, and for the manner in which the execution of it has been conduced. The encouragement, that we have met with from Persons the most eminent for their Dignity, their Learning, and their Love of the Arts, is an Honour which we here gratefully acknowledge. It has hitherto animated us in the progress of our Work, and makes us hope, that this Volume may find a favourable Reception.