The Romance of Ruins

The Romance of Ruins

The Search for Ancient Ionia - 1764

The Romance of Ruins is published to accompany the exhibition of the same name at Sir John Soane's Museum from March to May 2021

The exhibition and book focus on the Society of Dilettanti's 1764 expedition to ancient Greek cities that were founded on the coast of Western Anatolia (modern Turkey). This region was  known to the ancients as Ionia and was part of the Greek world from the 8th century BC. Although ruined in antiquity, the beauty and fame of the Ionian cities lived on in the writings of ancient commentators such as Herodotus and Strabo. The powerful and poetic images here are by the brilliant young artist William Pars. Begun on the expedition and later worked up in the studio, they record the classical ruins encountered on the expedition, and also the living landscape - its flora and fauna, and the customs, manners and dress of the people. They are a companion to the published diary account of the expedition by the antiquary Richard Chandler. This remarkable set of pictorial documents has never been fully published in spite of their beauty and the Enlightenment themes of travel and discovery that they represent.

The book includes an introduction by the exhibition's curator, Ian Jenkins, Senior Curator at the British Museum, a series of essays by eminent scholars, and a catalogue of works in the exhibition.

Ian Jenkins was Senior Curator in the Department of Greece and Rome at the British Museum until his death in December 2020. Philip Mansel is a historian of courts and cities, and of France and the Ottoman Empire. Jason M Kelly is Director of the IUPUI Art and Humanities Institute and Professor of History in the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPI. Alastair Blanshard is the Paul Eliadis Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Queensland, Australia. Kim Sloan is curator of British Drawings and Watercolours before 1880 and Francis Finlay Curator of the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum. J Lesley Fitton is former Keeper of the Department of Greece and Rome at the British Museum. Robert Pitt is a Greek historian and epigrapher of the Classical and Hellenistic periods and a faculty member of College Year in Athens. Tuğba Tanyeri-Erdemir is a Research Associate at the Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh. Celeste Farge is curator in the Department of Greece and Rome at the British Museum.

Sir John Soane's Museum
Sir John Soane's Museum
Product Format
220 x 245
Publication Date
Mar 3, 2021
Number of Pages