William Page

Figures among Ruins, Greece


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Not on display

William Page 1794 – 1872
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 192 × 283 mm
Presented by Miss Mary Louise Archibald 2017


This watercolour shows two figures in the ruins of a Greek temple, set against a backdrop of blue sea and sky. The figures are dressed in typical Greek clothes and appear to be contemplating the ruins of their country’s classical past. The work is typical of Page, a landscape painter, watercolourist and traveller, who is best known for views of the people and antiquities of Greece. The date of Page’s visit to Greece is not known precisely, but the Greek art historian Fani-Maria Tsigakou believes it was probably before 1822. It is likely to have provided a fund of material that he repeated for years afterwards.

Views of Greece, its people and antiquities became especially popular in the early nineteenth century, along with Lord Byron’s Oriental tales and the Philhellene movement supporting the Greek War of Independence from Ottoman Turkey, which began in 1821 and saw the death of Byron at Missolonghi in 1824. Page, along with J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851), contributed illustrations for Finden’s Landscape Illustrations to Byron published by John Murray, London in 1832–4. Never having been to Greece, Turner based some of his subjects on working sketches by Page, as documented in accounts in the Murray archives.

Further reading
J.H. Money, ‘The Life and Work of William Page’, Old Water-Colour Society’s Club, vol.XLVII, 1972.
C.W.J. Eliot, ‘Lord Byron, Father Paul and the Artist William Page’, Hesperie; Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, vol.XLIIV, October–December 1975, pp.409–25.

David Blayney Brown
April 2017

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