Schliemann’s Culinary Adventures in Italy

Heinrich Schliemann, a man of the world, ca. 1870. ASCSA Archives, Heinrich Schliemann Papers.

A day does not go by in the Archives of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) without an inquiry about the Heinrich Schliemann Papers. More than one third of the collection has been digitized and made available for research online; still, these inquiries keep coming from all over the world, including destinations as remote as Japan and Cuba.  Though unquestionably a legendary figure, Schliemann’s popularity is largely due to the richness of his personal archive, which remains an inexhaustible source of information for a wide range of audiences: historians, archaeologists, fiction and non-fiction writers, even film producers. (I have written about Schliemann before [Schliemann of Troy: The Story of a Linguistic Genius] and have hosted two posts by Curtis Runnels [Who Went to Schliemann’s Wedding? and, “All Americans Must Be Trojans at Heart”: A Volunteer at Assos in 1881 Meets Heinrich Schliemann], the author of The Archaeology of Heinrich Schliemann: An Annotated Bibliographic Handlist [2007].)

To the rich list of books and articles that have been written about Schliemann I would like to add the recent publications by Umberto Pappalardo, who has been studying Schliemann’s activities in Napoli and on the island of Motya, and Massimo Cultraro’s new book with the sibylline title L’ ultimo sogno dello scopritore di Troia: Heinrich Schliemann e l’ Italia (1858-1890). Before them, in 2012, Elizabeth Shepherd published a comprehensive article about Schliemann’s wanderings in Italy in the fall/winter of 1875, especially his interest in the site of Populonia. Schliemann travelled to Italy seven times, first as a tourist (1858), and later, especially after the discovery of Troy (1871-1873), as a celebrity and potential excavator. He even drew his last breath in the streets of Naples one morning in December 1890. Yet, until recently, Schliemann’s Italian days remained understudied.

Schliemann, who was fluent in Italian (as he was in many other languages), kept detailed travel diaries during his tours of Italy.  In order to shed light on Schliemann’s time on the peninsula, both Pappalardo and Cultraro have conducted thorough research in the Schliemann papers, as well as in other archives in Italy, with great results.  For example, Pappalardo has discovered in Giuseppe Fiorelli’s archive (Fiorelli [1823-1896] excavated Pompei in 1865) that Schliemann in 1874 was negotiating with the Italian authorities for the sale of Priam’s Treasure that he had removed (i.e., stolen) from Troy without the permission of the Ottomans (Pappalardo 2018b). The sale did not take place because the new Italian kingdom did not have the means to buy the Treasure; however, two years later (1876), according to Pappalardo, Schliemann sent, as a gift, 196 stone tools from Troy to anthropologist and ethnologist Giustiniano Nicolucci (1819-1904). Nicolucci would sell them later to the Anthropology Museum of the University of Napoli where they remain today.

The Motya Charioteer, ca. 470-460 B.C. Giusepe Whitaker Museum, Mozia.

What is also little known, at least to the wider public, is that during his third Italian journey (1875), Schliemann was in search of a back-up dig (in case he was not allowed to return to Troy). In this effort he was encouraged by the Neapolitan authorities to look for sites in Italy. One of them was Motya. From 19-22 October 1875, he sank a number of test trenches on the island of Motya at the western tip of Sicily, but was discouraged by the results (Pappalardo 2018a). It is perhaps understandable that the excavator of Priam’s Treasure, who was also not known for his patience, would have bigger expectations. Had he stayed longer, however, he might have discovered the famous Motya Charioteer, which was excavated in 1979.

Cultraro’s book about Schliemann’s journeys to the Italian peninsula is also of great interest because he is concerned with Schliemann the traveler and has looked to his diaries as a source of ethnographical information about Italy in the late 19th century. Even more interesting is the fact that Cultraro has dedicated a separate subchapter, titled “A tavola con Schliemann,” to Schliemann’s dining habits in Italy (2018, pp. 148-152). As expected, most of Schliemann’s culinary comments belong to his first trip in 1858, when he got his first true taste of Italian food. (To judge from his complaints, he wasn’t very impressed.) There are far fewer comments about food during his 1868 trip (I suspect that by then he knew what to expect or avoid). With Massimo’s permission, I am presenting here, in translation, excerpts from this subchapter concentrating on Schliemann’s first trip. (Many thanks to Cecilia Cozzi for the English translation and to Jack L. Davis for editing it.)

At Table with Schliemann
by
Massimo Cultraro*

The diaries that concern his travels and lengthy sojourns in different parts of the [Italian] peninsula are dominated by accurate descriptions of food and of the cost of meals. If we compare these descriptions with those of his travels in other parts of the world, for instance those in the Far East (China and Japan in 1866) or London in 1844, references there to food appear very infrequently or, in some cases, are totally absent. Italy seems to be the place for ethno-anthropological considerations of alimentation, with comments not only on the quality of local products, but also about dining customs (Cultraro 2018, 148-149).

Heinrich Schliemann in1861, three years after his first Italian journey. ASCSA Archives, Heinrich Schliemann Papers.

In his descriptions of visits to principal Italian cities, Schliemann, who was careful to maintain a very sober lifestyle and fearful of wasting time, rarely wanted to take breaks. Only once on a very cold and rainy day in November in Rome, did he go into a coffee shop for a hot chocolate, although his true motivation was that he wanted to spend time with a prelate, whom he had asked to help him with grammatical exercises [Diary A3, Nov. 28, 1858]. Schliemann often had meals alone, but it could happen that a lunch was more elaborate, as was the case in the restaurant of a hotel in Baia in spring 1868, when he was eating in a very beautiful landscape and had “maccaroni with two bottles of excellent wine,” the price of which he noted (Cultraro 2018, p. 149).

In Rome, he allowed himself to have a lavish breakfast at the Caffè Greco, frequented by foreigners; “coffee was served with finesse in glasses, prepared with sugar, and cost, without bread, only 2 baiocchi”; there he allowed himself the luxury of reading Il Giornale di Roma. [Diary A 3, Nov. 24, 1858]. He went there very often and his descriptions agree with the accounts of other foreigner travelers and artists who, in the same years, went to the same place. “The room seems to be enveloped in a thick fog,” said the American William Gillespie in 1845, “because everyone smokes and drinks coffee, conversing in a variety of languages with no attention to etiquette” (Cultraro 2018, p. 149).

Schliemann’s description of Caffé Greco, Nov. 24, 1858, Diary A3, page 4. ASCSA Archives, Heinrich Schliemann Papers.

Ludwig J. Passini, Artist in Caffè Greco in Rome, 1856. Public domain.

In his Italian diaries, a description of lunch is accompanied by an indication of prices, usually in French florins, according to a habit that he began to follow during his first years in Amsterdam (from 1842), when a lack of economic resources required him to keep strict control over his expenses.

Schliemann did not crave luxury, so long as the cuisine was good and a restaurant was clean. His frequent comings and goings in Rome were usually concluded by a dinner in the restaurant of the Hotel Minerva, where there was good balance between quality of the meals and price. One night, tired from too much walking around the city, he stopped at the restaurant of the hotel, and describes a dinner consisting of “pea soup, meat with legumes, and wine at one’s discretion. An abundant evening meal, to which Schliemann was not accustomed, forced him to retreat to his room, and “having eaten and drunk too much,” he fell into a very gloomy and troubled sleep, and then rose from bed at four in the morning. This was not the first time that an excess of food and wine in Italy compelled him to spend a very tormented night.  Also on Capri, after having drunk three bottles of wine in an unrestrained manner and having eaten excessively, he felt sick and suffered a sleepless night (Cultraro 2018, p. 150).

Hotel Minerva, next to the Pantheon, Rome.

During a trip from Rome to Naples, in December 1858, in Terracina, even though he complained about the excessive price of “six paoli” for a lunch in a “osteria”, he was satisfied with “broth, roasted fish with potatoes, meat, fruit, and bad wine!”

Schliemann’s first contact with Sicily left negative impressions.  He disembarked on December 18, 1858, after a night inauspicious and not to be remembered.  While he was searching the streets of Messina for a restaurant, he found one where he ate “with great disgust and repugnance” because of its filthiness.  The situation seemed to improve some days later in Syracuse, where he had lunch in the restaurant of the Viceroy Hotel, dining on “broth, cabbage with meat, fried fish, sardines, and an omelette” to which he added a bottle and a half of wine.  Even though the meal was excellent and the food abundant, he felt compelled to fight with the owner of the hotel over their expensive prices, following the suggestion of a man from Syracuse who was sitting in the same restaurant. His anonymous dining partner, “a Danish man who spoke Swedish,” also was able to get a better price for full board by bargaining.

Sicily, dominated by the pervasive filthiness of people and things, was the setting for another unexpected experience: when he arrived in the village of Belvedere, near Syracuse, Schliemann took refreshments at the house of a shepherd where he ate “bread, four eggs, wine, and a fruit salad like our cucumbers and very nice.” (Cultraro 2018, p. 151).

His final judgment on the city and its food was very harsh: “…. foods are very bad, broth consisting only of water mingled with vermicelli and cheese, and the thought of the disgusting filthiness in which foods were prepared repeatedly increased my loathing and repugnance.” He repeated the same thoughts even more aggressively, in his account of the following day, when to his description of watery broths, he added that butter was unknown, noting that “everything is fried or roasted here with veal or pork fat and it is a delicacy if something is fried with lard.”

To his eyes, Sicilian cooking seemed to be very fatty and full of oil: “The butter is here sold at 9 tari to the roll of 2 1/2 pounds and it is terrible. Cream and fior di latte are unknown here. Coffee is drunk black because there is no cow milk; the goat milk is already very skim and mixed with still more water is very expensive.”  His complaints, however, end on a positive note: “The only good thing here in Syracuse is the wine which has the strength of a Madeira and the sweetness of muscato wine, although, if while drinking it, one remembers with how much filthiness it is produced, it cannot be drunk without disgust.”

Another unhappy Italian meal for Schliemann, Dec. 23, 1858, Diary A3, p. 59. ASCSA Archives, Heinrich Schliemann Papers.

His trip to Catania, nearly eleven hours by coach, brought further disappointment: while referring to the exhausting trip and to its frequent (and useless) stops, he could not help but conclude that “what is the most annoying thing is that in no place was there an opportunity to have something to eat and drink.” Luckily, the trip from Catania to Messina was somehow different and, in the railway station of Acireale, during an exchange of horses, Schliemann did manage to have “goat cheese and two glasses of wine.”

He reëvaluated Sicilian cooking in Messina, where he was invited by the commercial agent Saraceno to his home, together with other foreign guests, including the American consul.  “The lunch was very good,” Schliemann wrote, “broth with meatballs, then fish with butter sauce followed by pasticcio and focaccia, roast beef, sorbetto, roasted chicken, fruit, and more” [Diary A3, Dec. 23, 1858]. This lunch in Messina is his only truly positive comment on Sicilian cooking. Also, in the course of his second trip in 1868, he did not comment on the food, except to remark that, after a trip by boat to Aci Trezza under a burning sun,“ I returned to Catania ,” he noted in his diary, “with a feverish thirst, drank a bottle of beer with ice, and went to bed (Cultraro 2018, p. 152).

References

Pappalardo, U. 2018a. “Heinrich Schliemann a Mozia,” Sicilia Archeologica 110, pp. 109-138.

Pappalardo, U. 2018b. “Heinrich Schliemann a Napoli: note di viaggio e documenti,” Napoli Nobilissima 4:3, pp. 58-64.

Shepherd, E. J. 2012. “Schliemann a Populonia e altrove,” Rassegna di Archeologia 24, 2009-11, pp. 143-165.

Schliemann’s Diary A3 (1858) in the ASCSA Archives: https://www.ascsa.edu.gr/archives/schliemann-diary-a-3


*Massimo Cultraro is Senior Researcher at the National Research Council (CNR), Institute for Archaeological and Cultural Heritage, Catania (IBAM). His main research field is the archaeology of the Aegean Bronze Age, with reference to the long-term interconnections between Greece, the Southern Balkans and Italy. Since 2007 he has served as scientific director of the Iraq Virtual Museum, an international multimedia project promoted by the CNR and the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs (www.virtualmuseumiraq.cnr.it). As scientific head, he has also carried out many projects in Montenegro, Portugal and Georgia under the international agreements between the Italian CNR and its international counterparts.

In addition to L’ ultimo sogno dello scopritore di Troia, his publications include L’anello di Minosse. Archeologia della regalità nell’Egeo preistorico (Milan 2001), I Micenei. I Greci prima di Omero (Rome, 2006), and two publications in press: Troy in the Bronze Age (Genova 2019) and a monograph on Scholars at War. The Italian Archaeology during the First World War (Rome 2019).


The Mystery Artist: In Search of François Perilla

The American School’s haphazard art collection continues to fascinate me. It lacks any thematic cohesion and at first glance often makes no sense, because most of the works have little to do with the institution itself. Yet, it remains a source of mystery because these same works are also associated with people who were once deeply involved in the School’s affairs. Before they ended up at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or School hereafter), these objects decorated the walls of private houses and were part of those households’ life history. In Janet Hoskins’s Biographical Objects: How Things Tell the Stories of People’s Lives (1998), six women and men from Eastern Indonesia tell the history of their lives by talking about their possessions, thus creating an identity for themselves through objects they made, bought, were given, or collected. Our people are no longer alive but many of their possessions are with us, and they have a story to tell us (if we ask them…).

The Blegen-Hill house at Ploutarchou 9, ca. 1960s. ASCSA Archives.

Most of the artwork that hangs on the walls or decorates the mantels of the various buildings of the School comes from two households. One was the residence of two couples, Carl and Elizabeth Blegen (the Blegens) and Bert and Ida Hill (the Hills), who lived together at Ploutarchou 9 (Kolonaki) in the 1930s; the other belonged to the archaeologist George Mylonas and his wife Lela who lived in Saint Louis (Missouri) in the 1930s before they moved back to Greece in the early 1970s. Although both households were set up about the same time, the Blegens/Hills, because of Elizabeth’s personal wealth, began purchasing artwork immediately, while the Mylonases, both younger and refugees from Asia Minor, did not begin acquiring art until the early 1950s. (I have written about the nature of the Mylonas collection in a post titled “The Spirit of Saint Louis Lives in Athens”; on the two couples living at Ploutarchou Street read “The End of the Quartet: The Day the Music Stopped at Ploutarchou 9,” by Jack L. Davis; and Pounder 2015.)

Lately I have been trying to identify the items from the Blegen-Hill household, which came to school almost intact after the death of the house’s last occupant, Carl Blegen, in 1971. Although we have an inventory, the fact that the objects were not photographed or tagged before they were dispersed among the various buildings of the School (including Corinth) makes it difficult to identify their origin today.  Some of the art, such Giovani Battista Piranesi’s “Vedute di Roma,” is easily identifiable, but portions of the collection remain shrouded in mystery.

In addition, we also lack indoor photos of the house, except for the one that shows the so-called “Greek Room.” (Take for comparison the interior of John Gennadius’s house in London, which was professionally photographed, making it easier to identify the artworks from it that came to the Gennadius Library.) Still we are slowly putting together a picture of the life and art at the Blegen residence. In a recent conference about Carl and Elizabeth Blegen, Vivian Florou reconstructed through archival research some of the social life of the house at Ploutarchou 9 during its peak times, before and after WW II (Florou 2015).  In “Skyromania? American Archaeologists in 1930s Skyros,” I identified some of the embroideries and pottery that were once part of it.  In “The Grecian Landscapes of Anna Richards Brewster,” I suggested that an oil by Brewster might also have once been belonged to the Blegens.

Today’s post focuses on another large painting that once hung on the walls of Ploutarchou 9 (item no. 10 in the Blegen Collection), but is now adorning the walls of my new office: a watercolor depicting the temple of Hera at Olympia, signed “F. Perilla 1930”. A quick search on the internet produced a few brief references to auction catalogs that identified him as a French art historian and artist, born in 1874, as well as to two recent translations of books he wrote about Chios (1928) and Mount Pelion (1940). A search in “Ambrosia” (the ASCSA’s online book catalogue) proved more fruitful, with several entries to publications by Perilla.

Temple of Hera at Olympia, watercolor by F. Perilla. ASCSA Archives, Art Collection.

From Nowhere

The earliest entry dates from 1927 and is titled: Le Mont Athos. Son histoire – ses monastères – ses oevres d’ art – ses bibliothèques.  It is a medium size volume (32 x 25 cm), of about 200 pages, printed in Thessaloniki by a French publisher whose name and address figure prominently on the book: J. Danguin, Éditeur, 3o, Rue Jacob, Paris. In the Preface Danguin is also identified as the owner of “Éditions Papyrus.”  The eye-catching drawings –lithographs of watercolors, or woodcuts of sketches– are by Perilla. Le Mont Athos is not a travel book but a scholarly publication to judge from Perilla’s bibliography.  In the book’s Preface, the author reveals the only biographical information we have about him: that he did not know anything about the history of Mount Athos until 1920 (when he was already 46 years old), but which he managed to master and write a book about in the next seven years by conducting extensive library research and by taking three trips to Mount Athos in 1923 and 1924. It was during these trips that he produced the twelve watercolors and the numerous sketches that are included in the publication.

 

Watercolor of the Simon Petra Monastery by F. Perilla reproduced in Le Mont Athos. ASCSA, Gennadius Library.

Within a year of the publication of Le Mont Athos, this middle-aged man, who seems to have appeared from nowhere, produced two more illustrated books: a short one, more of a travel-guide, about the Daphni Monastery and an impressive tome on Chios.  Chio: L’ ile heureuse, Editions Perilla (1928), is a lavish edition on thick paper featuring many of the author’s watercolors (15), sketches, and photographs from his time on the island. (A Greek translation of the book was published by the Coraes Library in 2009.) In the preface of this volume, Perilla thanks George Choremis, Leonis Calvocoressis, and Nicolas Paspatis for their hospitality. He must have been a guest at the Choremis mansion which he praises for its famous garden (περιβόλι) and rich library. In the Daphni book he is already advertising the appearance of three more travel books: Salonique, Mistra, and Excursions en Grèce. Not only this, but by 1928, when the Chios book appeared, Perilla had established his own publishing house, titled “Editions Perilla,” using the Nike of Samothrace as his logo (although he is still printing in Paris with “presses de A. Lahure” and Théo Brugière for the plates).

Two years later (1930) Perilla published Grèce: Croquis dè route, this time a car journey, sponsored by the newly founded (1924) Automobile and Touring Club of Greece (Ελληνική Λέσχη Περιηγήσεων και Αυτοκινήτου, aka EΛΠΑ), to promote travel to ancient and modern sites in the Peloponnese and central Greece. It’s in this b­­ook that I discovered the watercolor of the Temple of Hera at Olympia, which ended up at Ploutarchou 9. In addition to being a fine artist and scholar, Perilla could write prose with ease, thus making his books something between travelguides and travelogues:

“A une petite gare isolée au bout de la plaine d’ Argolide, un nom fameux retentit: Mycènes! … Où est Mycènes? Là-haut, cachée dans les montagnes. Montagnes arides, sombres, sinistres; asile du people sauvage et rude qui bâtit une ville, des palis, des tombeaux par l’ amoncellement titanique de blocs immenses.”

(For the production of this small book he went local, trying one of the largest and oldest printing houses in Greece, the Aspioti-Elka enterprise in Corfu).

In the meantime Perilla continued his prolific production by publishing another large volume: À travers la Macedoine (1932) which is, in terms of size and quality, equivalent to Le Mont Athos and Chio. This book was also was printed by Aspioti Elka, except for the fine heliogravures which were printed in France. The photography is particularly noteworthy.  Unlike Perilla’s previous books where photographs were sparse, this one has many of high quality, including captivating portraits of local men and women and breathtaking aerial photos (which must have required expensive equipment).

Photograph of a Macedonian shepherd by F. Perilla reproduced in À travers la Macedoine. ASCSA, Gennadius Library.

Aerial photo of Tsimiski Street (Οδός Τσιμισκή) by F. Perilla reproduced in À travers la Macedoine. ASCSA Gennadius Library.

A Sought-After Travel Writer

Through these books Perilla must have earned a fine reputation as an author, artist, and publisher. In 1936 the organizers of the Third International Congress of Comparative Pathology in Athens (IIIme Congrès International de Pathologie Comparée a la Faculté de Médecine d’Athenes, du 15 au 18 Avril 1936), under the patronage of King George II, commissioned him to enhance the conference program with a series of watercolors illustrating some of the archaeological sites that the participants and their spouses were going to visit during a two-week cruise at the end of the conference. (I was fortunate in finding this book by accident while browsing the Geography and Travel section of the Gennadius Library because it is not listed under Perilla’s publications.)

Watercolor of the Tomb of Agamemnon at Mycenae reproduced by F. Perilla in the Congrès program. ASCSA Gennadius Library.

About this time –it is unclear exactly when because it is sine datum—Perilla published another volume, also rare today, about the Greek islands. Sponsored by “la compagnie de cabotage de Grèce,” as a means to promote cruise travelling, Les iles de la Grèce featured text, watercolors, and aerial photos of the Cyclades. (Another copy of this rare book can be found in the Dimitris Kondominas Collection at the Benaki Museum.)

Just before the outbreak of WW II in Greece, in June 1940, Perilla published a pocket size, tour book about Mount Pelion (Au pays des centaures. Le Pélion (1940), printed in Athens by “Pyrsos Editions”). We have no idea if he stayed in Greece throughout the War or if he went back to France or elsewhere. Perilla is, however, in Athens by 1942 when he republished Daphni. A year later he republished Grèce: Croquis dè route under a new title, Aquarelles de Grèce. In a brief preface he explained that he did it because the 1930 edition had been exhausted, but also because he wanted to pay tribute to Greece, the land of his happy wanderings (“vagabondages heureux”). There is a gripping detail in this book: the announcement of a publication about Romania (“en préparation: Roumanie”) which makes me wonder if he spent the early years of the War in the northern Balkans. (A bibliographic search for the Romanian book did not produce any results, most likely because it was never published.)

Watercolor of the Temple of Hera at Olympia by F. Perilla reproduced in Aquarelles de Grèce. The original watercolor is now part of the ASCSA Art Collection.

A Neighbor of the Blegens?

In 1944 Perilla published two more books: Vieille Athènes and Promenades Attiques. Both included new watercolors and photography, especially Vieille Athènes where for the first time the photos surpass in number the watercolors.  Promenades Attiques features more impressive aerial photography (see the spectacular photo of Piraeus), which he must have taken before the War.

Aerial photo of Piraeus by F. Perilla reproduced in Promenades Attiques. ASCSA Gennadius Library.

In the preface, we learn one more biographical detail about Perilla, that he lived on Ploutarchou Street (“la rue Plutarque où j’ habite, l’une des plus sympathiques de la ville…), which means he was also a neighbor of the Blegens and the Hills, although the Blegens and Mrs. Hill were in America during the War. (Elizabeth Blegen who also painted watercolors must have known Perilla’s work and him personally.) Still he must have bumped into Bert Hodge Hill, who was the only member of the Blegen-Hill household, who continued to live in Greece during the War. Although Perilla’s choice of words in the preface is careful, he does not hesitate to refer to the gloomy atmosphere of the city, with the “death engines” flying over the famous Attic sky (… “d’invisibles engins de mort voguent dans la stratosphere”), as well as to reminisce about prewar, carefree days. I wonder, however, how he managed to finance three new editions during the German occupation, when most printing houses had been shut down or were under close surveillance (none of his war publications provide any information about the printer). In 1945 Perilla issued Loisirs d’ Athènes which is described as “édition de luxe,” but, unfortunately, we do not have a copy at the Gennadius Library.

Photograph of an Athenian house on Hadrian Street (Οδός Αδριανού) by F. Perilla reproduced in Vieille Athènes. ASCSA Gennadius Library.

Watercolor depicting an Athenian street by F. Perilla reproduced in Vieille Athènes. ASCSA Gennadius Library.

Publishing the Makriyannis Paintings…

His next book came as a surprise to me. In 1949 Perilla published the twenty-four paintings of General Makriyannis in a noteworthy edition which featured both color and black- and-white lithographs of the paintings (Fragments de la vie heroïque de Makryjannis suivis des ses images de l’ époque grecque). In Chapter III, where Perilla writes about the history of the paintings and their rediscovery by John Gennadius, he mentions the American School and the Gennadius Library where the paintings reside; yet, I found it strange that he does not thank either the Librarian of the Gennadius Library or the Director of the American School for permission to publish the works or for their facilitating his research. No less interesting, the Gennadius Library had to buy the book from Kauffmann’s bookstore in 1954. You would think that Perilla would have given a copy to the Library (unless it was lost for some reason). Whatever is the story, we are grateful to Perilla for producing an illuminated initial with the Gennadius Library in it.

The Vanishing Intellectual

One of his last publications, most likely the final one, is a book about the three heroic islands of the Greek War of Independence: Hydra, Spetsae, Psara… (1950), also printed, as the Makriyannis book, by Pyrsos Editions. As usual, the book features many of his watercolors as well as pencil drawings –a novelty–but no photographs. The text is informative and recounts the history of these islands, especially in connection with Greece’s independence.  By the time Hydra came out Perilla was 76 years old, but he remained a good storyteller.  We lose track of him after 1950 (and there is no death date in the bibliographic entries of his books in libraries).

For a man who was so intellectually productive, it is strange (not to mention sad) that he remains so forgotten. Of course, history is full of examples of vanishing artists and authors, who were once extremely popular and then faded into oblivion. Who remembers Hans Makart, except for a few scholars, who was a contemporary of Manet and Monet, or George du Maurier, Henry James’s friend and rival? (There is a nice short essay “How do Artists Vanish” in the Spectator by art critic Martin Gayford, who is contemplating the future of Damien Hirst; and for the rival friendship between Du Maurier and James, I recommend a favorite novel, Author, Author by David Lodge.) Some are rediscovered, others not…

But back to Perilla.  I am particularly curious to know what happened to his watercolors, sketches, and his vast photographic collection. Iole Vingopoulou, a connoisseur of travel authors and travelogues, comments about how little we know regarding Perilla: only that he lived in Athens for a few years, around 1930, and wrote illustrated travel books (Vingopoulou 2005, p. 128). Eleni Beliyanni in her introduction for the Greek edition of Χίος: Ευτυχισμένο Νησί (2009), was also not able to contribute any new information about Perilla’s life. The Teloglion Arts Foundation in Thessaloniki may be in possession of some of Perilla’s artwork because his name appears in the list of paintings exhibited in one of their shows in 2013, titled Η Θεσσαλονίκη των Τέλλογλου. ΖωγραφικήΧαρακτικήΓλυπτική. But other than that and the School’s watercolor of the Temple of Hera at Olympia, where is the rest of what must have once been a substantial art collection?

Note: After I had written this post I received a note from Jack Davis informing me about another book by Perilla, published in 1954 (at the age of 80) titled Delphes (unfortunately we don’t have a copy at the Gennadius Library).


References

Florou, V. 2015. “The House at 9 Ploutarchou Street: A Grape Arbor and a Dense Shadow of Beautiful Meanings,” in Carl W. Blegen: Personal and Archaeological Narratives, ed. N. Vogeikoff-Brogan, J.L.Davis, and V. Florou, Atlanta, pp. 121-146.

Pounder, R. L. 2015, “The Blegens and the Hills: A Family Affair,” in Carl Blegen: Personal and Archaeological Narratives,” ed. N. Vogeikoff-Brogan, J. L. Davis, and V. Florou, Atlanta 2015, pp. 85-98.

Staikos, K. and I. Vingopoulou, 2005. Ο Ελληνικός κόσμος μέσα από το βλέμμα των περιηγητών, 15ος-20ός αιώνας : ανθολόγιο από τη συλλογή του Δημητρίου Κοντομηνά, Athens.

 


Professors to the Rescue: Americans in the Aegean at the End of the Great War, 1918-1919.

Islands and coast Asia Minor still crowded with refugees. Stop. Number there still to be repatriated estimated three hundred thousand. Stop. We are maintaining three stations in Mytilene district clothing alone being available, but food urgently needed.  Stop. Above statements based on personal inspection this Commission. Stop. We recommend that work in Aegean be immediately extended to other islands like Chios, Samos and to opposite coast which can be reached by sea transport which can be secured by Greek governments. Stop.”

The text quoted above is a small portion of a long telegram (47 lines) that Colonel Edward Capps sent to Harvey D. Gibson, member of the American Red Cross War Council in Paris, on December 12, 1918 (NACP, Greece, ARC Commission to, 964.62/08). The telegram reported the activities of the American Red Cross (ARC hereafter) since arrival of its Greek Commission in Athens on October 23rd.

This is not the first time I am writing about the activities of the ARC in Greece. In 2011, together with Jack L. Davis, then Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or the School hereafter), we organized and subsequently published the proceedings of a conference titled Philhellenism, Philanthropy, or Political Convenience: American Archaeology in Greece (Princeton 2013). Davis’s paper, “The American School of Classical Studies and the Politics of Volunteerism,” discussed the involvement of members of the ASCSA, through enlistment in the Greek Commission of the ARC, in humanitarian aid in eastern Macedonia, as well as in the repatriation of Greek citizens who had been taken as hostages to Bulgaria. Later in 2015, on the occasion of the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli, I was invited to participate in a conference about The First World War in the Mediterranean and the Role of Lemnos, with a paper that discussed the humanitarian activities of the ARC Greek Commission in the eastern Aegean at the end of the Great War. Read the rest of this entry »


“The haughty arrogance of the Nordic people”: A Scandal in the German Colony of Athens on the 20th of April 1935.

Posted by Alexandra Kankeleit

Alexandra Kankeleit here contributes an essay about an unknown episode, almost a scandal, which took place in 1935 in the German community of Athens and involved the local Catholic church and members of the German Archaeological Institute.  Alexandra, an archaeologist who specializes in the study of Roman mosaics, has also since 2016 been part of an extensive project of the German Archaeological Institute (Athens and Berlin), titled The History of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens during the National Socialist Era. As part of the project, she has examined a host of bibliographic and archival sources in both countries that document the activities of the German archaeologists in Greece from 1933 until 1944. A list of her most recent publications can be found on Alexandra’s own website.


A recently discovered episode from 1935 offers a striking picture of the predominant mood in the so-called “German Colony” in Athens following the National Socialist seizure of power in Germany. (“Deutsche Kolonie” was the official name of the German-speaking Community in Greece until the end of WWII.)  It illustrates in dramatic fashion what battlefronts were being drawn up at the time and what the representatives of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens (DAI Athen hereafter) saw as their role in this critical period.

I stumbled more or less by chance upon this incident while carrying out research at the Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes (Political Archive of the Federal Foreign Office). The relevant documents are to be found in a folder that deals with the “Schwarze Front” (“Black Front”) in Greece, an underground organisation that was opposed to Hitler and his policies, and which was founded in 1930 by Otto Strasser (1897-1974), brother of the infamous Gregor Strasser (1892-1934). From 1934-1937 members of the “Schwarze Front” were based in Greece publishing illegal flyers and articles, and encouraging Germans living in Greece to turn away from Hitler. Read the rest of this entry »


Connecting the Dots: Peripheral Figures in the History of the American School of Classical Studies. The Case of R. S. Darbishire.

Steve Jobs once said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” Archives is all about connecting the dots. When processing archival material, you often come across documents, photos, or notes that don’t connect in any obvious way with the rest. For this reason all finding-aids have a “Miscellaneous” section.  And such is the case of R. S. Darbishire (1886-1949), a name I came upon in the Carl W. Blegen Papers several years ago, in a booklet of poems; and more recently, while going through a small box of unprocessed material from the Blegen/Hill household on Ploutarchou 9, in a set of architectural blueprints. It took me a while to connect the dots in the Darbishire puzzle.

The Elusive Mr. Darbishire

ASCSA Archives, Carl W. Blegen Papers

In the Blegen Papers, there is a small booklet with a collection of handwritten poems titled “Poems to Order. Thera, June 17-21, 1928. Robert Shelby Darbishire.”  The short poem on the first page is dedicated to CB:

Εξ αδοκήτο [Unforeseen]
You, when I asked, “What shall I do in Thera?”
Unexpectedly in my empty mind
Casually dropped this: “Write pretty!”
Here (unexpectedly) nought else I find.

Darbishire appears in the student list of the American School of Classical Studies (ASCSA, or School hereafter) for the year 1926-27; he is also thanked in the preliminary reports or final publications of a number of excavations conducted in 1927-1928: Prosymna, the Odeum at Corinth, and Olynthus.

There is very little information about Robert Shelby Darbishire on the web, and one has to type his name in various ways in order to retrieve a few scraps. Born in 1886 at Fort Meade, Florida, he was the son of Godfrey Darbishire (1853-1889) -a British surveyor and a famous rugby player, who immigrated to the States in 1883– and Ann Shelby of Chicago. Robert was unfortunate in losing his father at an early age.  Mother and son lived for a while on a farm they owned in Danville, Kentucky before they moved back to England to be near the paternal side of the family. (Darbishire’s grandfather was Robert Dukinfield Darbishire, a well-known philanthropist and biologist from Manchester.) Nevertheless, the Kentucky farm remained in the Darbishire family’s possession for a long time; mother and son would move back to it after the death of Robert Dukinfield in 1910; and Robert Shelby would retreat to the farm in various periods of his life. In fact, the family papers are deposited at the University of Kentucky Special Collections, and it is from their finding-aid that I managed to obtain good and reliable information about the Darbishires.

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“They returned… but stay I did”: Doreen Canaday’s Experience of Interwar Greece

I first encountered the name “Canaday” in the mid-1980s when I went to Bryn Mawr College for graduate school. Although we did most of our work in the seminar rooms above the Art and Archaeology Library (now the Rhys Carpenter Library), for books and periodicals about history or classics we had to go to the “big library,” which was none other than the Mariam Coffin Canaday Library.

A few years later when I returned to Greece to participate in the regular program of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA, or the School hereafter), I heard people referring to Canaday House.  One of the two marble houses flanking the Gennadius Library at 61 Souidias, it housed temporarily the family of the then Director of the School William (Willy) D. E. Coulson. (The big earthquake of 1986 in Kalamata had caused damages to the Director’s residence across the street.)

An ink drawing of the Canaday House at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. ASCSA Archives, Doreen Canaday Spitzer Photographic Collection.

Finally, in the summer of 1990, while digging at Mochlos on Crete, I met Doreen Spitzer on one of the “On-Site with The American School of Classical Studies at Athens” trips that she had been organizing for years, but without realizing that Doreen Spitzer’s maiden name was Canaday. It was only after I started working as the School’s Archivist that I became aware of Canaday Spitzer’s long legacy at the American School.  Doreen Canaday Spitzer (1914-2010) served as a Trustee 1978-1996, President of the Board of Trustees 1983-1988, Trustee Emerita from 1996 and President of the Friends from 1988 until her death in 2010.  (There is a thorough biographical essay about Doreen Spitzer by Catherine de Grazia Vanderpool in AKOUE 63, Fall 2010.) Her father, Ward Canaday (1885-1976), had also served as a Trustee of the School for almost four decades starting in 1937.

Doreen Canaday Spitzer listening to Manolis Andronikos, excavator of the royal tombs at Vergina, 1981. (Between them, barely visible, Machteld Mellink.) Source: ASCSA Archives.

Spitzer also cared deeply about preserving the School’s history and supported wholeheartedly the creation of an Archives Department during her term as President of the Board. Furthermore, she would contact School members, many of whom she knew personally from her time as a student of the School in 1936-1938, to solicit their personal papers.  No wonder why my formal title is the Doreen Canaday Spitzer Archivist. Needless to say that it would have pleased her immensely to see our new and enlarged facilities at the East Wing of the Gennadius Library. Read the rest of this entry »


Touring the Balkans with the Ladies of Ploutarchou 9

Posted by Jack L. Davis

Jack L. Davis, Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati and a former director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (2007-2012), here writes about women travelling alone through the western Balkans in the late 1930s, on the eve of WW II.


The second half of the 19th century saw the advent of mass tourism in the Mediterranean and Balkans. Despite a few blips (e.g., the Dilessi Murders in 1870 that resulted in the death of three Englishmen and an Italian at the hands of brigands; J. Gennadius, Notes on the Recent Murders by Brigands in Greece), travellers could be reasonably certain of their personal safety. Their passage was also facilitated by travel brokers and books of advice for tourists.  Thomas Cook tours began in Greece in 1868. The Baedeker guide for Greece was published in 1889 while and Murray’s Handbook for Travellers in Greece was already in its 7th edition by 1880.

Group and individual tourism became ever more common and secure.  American students in Greece experienced violence only on three occasions. In 1872 John Williams White, first chairman of the Managing Committee of the ASCSA, was the target of an attempted kidnapping. In 1886 University of Michigan student Walter Miller was commissioned a captain in the Greek army, so that he could hunt down his assailants. Only once did lawlessness end in death, in 1925 when John Logan was shot in Aitolia by attackers who fired on members of the American and British schools, in an apparent case of misidentification (http://www.ascsa.edu.gr/pdf/uploads/ASCSA-1882-1942.pdf, p. 179).

Since the late 19th century trips for the students of the ASCSA had been institutionalized, with a Peloponnese and an island trip led by Wilhelm Dörpfeld.  The Peloponnese trip was considered too rough for women, although the first woman member of the School (1885-86), Annie Smith Peck, travelled extensively there with friends. Several of the School’s female students would also hire Angelis Kosmopoulos (foreman for many excavations, including Olympia and Corinth) and his son George (later the husband of Alice Leslie Walker), as guides for their travels throughout Greece.

The more northern reaches of the Balkans began to attract tourists, including women travellers, a bit later than Greece, and there was an explosion of women travel writers there and elsewhere in the late Victorian period (http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/essay-07-07.html).

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