Chandler, Revett and Pars

Richard Chandler, Nicholas Revett, and William Pars

Ionian Antiquities (London, 1769)

(Thomas Phillips, 1843)

Ionian Antiquities of 1769 was published by the Society of Dilettanti. This Society had been formed in 1734 by 'some Gentlemen who had travelled in Italy, desirous of encouraging, at home, a Taste for those Objects which had contributed so much to their Entertainment abroad' (Preface to Ionian Antiquities, p. i). James Stuart and Nicholas Revett had been elected members in 1751, James Dawkins in 1755, and Robert Wood in 1763. To all of these the Society had given support and encouragement, and sometimes practical assistance, but Ionian Antiquities was the first of the Society's own publications.

The decision to finance a journey on the Society's own account was taken in 1764, and details of the arrangements are set out in the Preface to Ionian Antiquities, p.ii. The Society 'were possessed of a considerable Sum above what their current Services required' and after some debate resolved that 'a Person or Persons properly qualified should be sent, with sufficient Appointments, to certain Parts of the East, to collect Informations relative to the former state of those countries, and particularly to procure accurate Descriptions of the Ruins of such Monuments of Antiquity as are yet to been seen in those Parts'.

They chose Richard Chandler (1738-1810), already famed for his Marmorea Oxoniensia (Oxford, 1763), to carry out the 'Classical Part of the Plan', Nicholas Revett, 'who had already given a satisfactory Specimen of his Accuracy and Diligence, in his 'Measures of the Remains of Antiquity at Athens', as architect, and William Pars (1742-82) 'a young Painter of promising Talents' as 'a proper Person for taking Views, and copying Bas reliefs'. The salaries of the three were fixed, and their instructions drawn up; in these 'they were all strictly enjoined to keep a regular Journal, and hold a constant Correspondence with the Society'. It was made clear that Chandler was in overall charge.

The party left England on 9 June 1764 and disembarked at the Dardanelles on 25 August. After a number of visits, including one to the site of Troy, they reached Smyrna on 11 September. From there they made several excursions, but were restricted in their activities because of an outbreak of the plague. Finally leaving Smyrna on 20 August 1765, they reached Athens eleven days later and stayed there until 11 June 1766. After visiting several sites in the North-Eastern Peloponnese, they travelled via Delphi to Zant, whence they sailed for England on 31 August, arriving there on 2 November.

It is not surprising, after the appearance of the first volume of Stuart and Revett's The Antiquities of Athens in 1762, that the first publication which resulted from this trip should concentrate on Ionia - 'a Country in many respects curious, and perhaps, after Attica, the most deserving the Attention of the Classical Traveller' (Preface, p.iii). The first volume ofIonian Antiquities deals with 'The Temple of Bacchus at Teos', in its first chapter, 'The Temple of Minerva Polias at Priene' in its second, and 'The Temple of Apollo Didymaeus near Miletus' in its third.

Chapter II, Plate III, shown here, is a shaded engraving of a column from the Priene temple. The previous plate, Plate II, shows the same column, but drawn in outline only, and with every conceivable measurement given to an accuracy of 0.05 of an inch. The lower part is labelled 'The uppermost Step and Base, with the lower part of the Shaft of the Column', while the upper part is lablled 'The Capital and Fasciae of the Architrave, with the upper part of the Column'.

Chandler subsequently published three other books as a result of the journey of 1764-6 - a book of inscriptions,Inscriptiones antiquae, pleraeque nondum editae, in Asia Minore et Graecia, praesertim Athensis, collectae (Oxford, 1774), and two accounts of the trip based on the travellers' journal, Travels in Asia Minor (Oxford, 1775) and Travels in Greece (Oxford, 1776). The Roderic Bowen Library and Archives has a 'new edition' (Oxford, 1825) of the last two contained in one volume and entitled Travels in Asia Minor and Greece (Bishop Burgess bequest); it contains 'corrections and remarks' by Revett which are based on the annotations he made in his personal copies of the two original editions.

The preface to Travels in Asia Minor, which is reprinted in the double volume, reproduces in full the Society of Dilettanti's original instructions to Chandler, Revett and Pars, issued by the Society Committee including Stuart and Wood; it adds the interesting pieces of information that it was Wood who had actually drawn up those instructions, and that it was he who had written the preface to Ionian Antiquities, Volume I.

The Roderic Bowen Library and Archives' copy of Ionian Antiquities has bound in with it an English edition (London, 1759), possibly pirated, of Julien David Le Roy's Les Ruines des Plus Beaux Monuments de la Grece (Paris, 1758).

See further: D.Constantine, Early Greek Travellers and the Hellenic Ideal (Cambridge. 1984), ch. 9.