Experience & imagination: These were the things I saw


XXXII The Temple of Nike from Mars Hill, Athens

This is the grandest grouping of the Acroplis. The way in which the whole, in solemn square masses, piles up-the temple dominating all-is marvellous. It is finer, I am sure, in ruin, than it ever was in perfection.

Lithograph and description by Joseph Pennell from his book Pictures In the Land of Temples (William Heinemann 1915). According to his introduction to the book Pennell went to Greece because I was told by a Boston authority that I was nothing but a ragtime sketcher, couldn’t see Greek art and couldn’t draw it if I did. He goes on to say: These were the things I saw. Had I known more I might have seen less-for it seems to me that most artists who have gone to Greece have been so impressed with what they were told to see that…they have looked at the land with a foot-rule, a translation, and a dictionary, and they have often been interfered with by these aids…When I got to Athens I fell among friends, who answered my only question that “I wanted to see temples that stood up”.


XXXI The Temple of Nike, Athens

Pennell is perhaps best known for his great First World War poster showing New York bombed by enemy aircraft:


Lines & Colors

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