The Cretan EnigmaPosted: May 20, 2022 Filed under: Archaeology, Archival Research, Biography, Classics, History of Archaeology, Philhellenism, Uncategorized | Tags: Charles Henry Hawes, Crete, Harriet Ann Boyd 1 Comment
BY CURTIS RUNNELS – PRISCILLA MURRAY
In February 2022, Curtis Runnels, Professor of Archaeology at Boston University, and his wife Priscilla Murray, an anthropologist and Classical archaeologist, contributed to From the Archivist’s Notebook a story (The Cretan Idyll of Harriet Boyd and Charles Henry Hawes) about their purchase of a sketchbook from the early 20th century with watercolors depicting places and people on Crete. At the time, they identified Charles Henry Hawes as the owner of the sketchbook. Soon after their essay was published, they received a communication that cast doubt on the identity of the owner. After doing more research, they felt that they should publish an addendum to their previous essay, in order to let people know that they were probably wrong in their identification, and also open the floor for further discussion concerning the ownership of this precious item.
At a dinner in London in the nineteenth century, the social scientist Herbert Spencer is reported to have said that he had once composed a tragedy, to which the biologist Thomas Henry Huxley quickly replied “I know what it was about: an elegant theory killed by a nasty, ugly little fact.” Our blog “The Cretan Idyll of Harriet Boyd and Charles Henry Hawes” is such a tragedy. From circumstantial evidence we had concluded that a sketchbook in our collection was once owned by Charles Henry Hawes. But now archaeologist Vasso Fotou, who has a copy of Henry’s diary for the spring of 1905, has informed us that the dates in our sketchbook for that time period and the ones in Henry’s diary do not match. That fact proves that the sketchbook was not owned by Henry.
On the dates of the paintings and other sketches of the Aegean islands between Siteia and Athens in the sketchbook, Henry was on Crete. He had been on Crete for a few days when a group of attendees of the First International Congress of Archaeology in Athens, including Harriet Boyd, Sir Arthur Evans, and twelve others arrived in Candia aboard the chartered yacht Astrapi on April 13. Henry visited Harriet at Gournia on April 20, however, and not on April 16 as we had thought, and he remained in Crete after the Astrapi returned to Athens.
The dates in the sketchbook for 1905 suggest a short trip to Crete, and we now believe that it belonged to one of the twelve passengers on the Astrapi. The yacht continued on to the Bay of Mirabello and Siteia, allowing some of the passengers to visit the excavations at Gournia and Palaikastro before the yacht returned to Athens via the islands. Who was in that party of travelers and who could have been the owner? And which of these people is also responsible for the paintings, pencil drawings, and other pictures in New England in 1915 and 1916? It should be noted that the artworks in the sketchbook for both periods are of highly variable quality, and two pencil drawings (one of a sculpture of Heracles in the Mykonos Museum dated to April 20, and one undated portrait of the head of a man who might be Henry) are pasted into the sketchbook and are possibly from a different book. Did more than one person paint or draw in the book?
While the sketchbook was not Henry’s, we nevertheless know that the conference visitors were acquainted with Harriet and probably also with Henry whom they would have met on the side trip to Palaikastro where he was excavating. The acquaintance of the sketchbook owner with the Hawes may have been renewed in New England in 1915/1916 and it is possible that some of the portraits in the book are of Henry, Harriet, and their children after all.
We have considered two “suspects,” perhaps Edith Hall or Gisela Richter, both of whom were in Harriet’s circle and both of whom were on Crete in 1905 and who subsequently lived in the U.S. on the east coast in 1915/1916. Unfortunately, in the absence of any evidence tying either one of them to the sketchbook we can only speculate that one of these women, both close friends with Harriet, could be the sketchbook owner.
The Cretan Idyll of Harriet Boyd and Charles Henry HawesPosted: February 12, 2022 Filed under: Archaeology, Archival Research, Art History, Biography, Classics, Crete, Greek Folklore, History of Archaeology, Modern Greek History, Philhellenism, Women's Studies | Tags: Charles Henry Hawes, Crete, Harriet Ann Boyd 4 Comments
BY CURTIS RUNNELS – PRISCILLA MURRAY
Curtis Runnels, Professor of Archaeology at Boston University and an expert in Palaeolithic archaeology in Greece, and his wife Priscilla Murray, an anthropologist and Classical archaeologist, here contribute to From the Archivist’s Notebook a story about their purchase of a sketchbook from the early 20th century with watercolors depicting places and people on Crete.
We visited an antiquarian bookfair in Concord, New Hampshire, about twelve years ago and a booth belonging to a dealer from Vermont, who specialized in original artwork, caught our eye. Sorting through piles of miscellaneous materials, we found a few things relating to Greece, and a small (8 by 4 inches; 20 x 10 cm) artist’s sketchbook grabbed our attention. It was displayed on a table opened to a watercolor view that seemed familiar. Surely it was the entrance to the harbor at Herakleion on Crete! And indeed, penciled in one corner was the inscription “Candia,” the older name for the city which both confirmed the identification and provided a clue that the sketchbook, as dealers in antiques like to say, “had some age.” There were other artworks in the sketchbook that are dated to April 1905, and still others with various dates in 1915, and one dated to 1916. The artwork from 1905 was the most interesting for us. Turning the pages of the sketchbook we saw line drawings of dancers at Knossos and a man drawing water from a well in Siteia, pastels of houses labeled Knossos and “Sitia, as well as watercolors and line drawings of Mykonos, Ios, and other Cycladic islands, Sounion, and Athens. The unknown artist was interested particularly in the new Minoan finds from Knossos as is evident from the line drawings of wall paintings and artifacts in the “Candia Museum.”
Although there is no artist’s signature, we guessed that the artist must be someone interesting, perhaps even someone we would recognize. After all, how many Americans or British travelers (the fact that the titles are in English is the reason for assuming the nationality of the artist) were sufficiently interested in Knossos and the Minoans to visit Crete in 1905 at a time when there was much unrest on the island? We bought the sketchbook and took it home to do more research.Read the rest of this entry »