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EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS

Antiquities of Athens

Antiquities of Athens, James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, 1762, Printed in London by John Haberkorn, Courtesy of the Library, © The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture, New York

Antiquities of Athens, James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, 1762, Printed in London by John Haberkorn, Courtesy of the Library, © The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture, New York (click image for larger version)

Stuart and Revett started work on Antiquities of Athens when they returned to London in 1755, after their journey to Greece. The first volume was published in 1762. It contained details of just five buildings in the northern part of Athens, but more were promised in further volumes.

The first volume had more than five hundred subscribers. Few of the subscribers were architects or builders, which limited the impact of the work as a design sourcebook. It was, however, well received by scholars, antiquaries and gentleman amateurs.

The presentation binding that Stuart designed for Antiquities of Athens had a Neo-classical design. Stuart's binding inspired architect Robert Adam to design similar presentation bindings for his work on the antiquities of Spalatro.

Antiquities of Athens helped shape the European understanding of ancient Greece. It brought an entirely new design vocabulary to 18th-century European architecture and design, and later became an essential sourcebook for the 19th-century Greek Revival.