William Stillman

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The Acropolis of Athens: the Photography of William Stillman

The Parthenon announces a return installation of The Acropolis of Athens: The Photography of William James Stillman in the West Gallery now through June 28, 2020.

William J. Stillman’s book, The Acropolis of Athens, Illustrated Picturesquely and Architecturally in Photography, was published in 1870, when photography was still in its infancy. The book is rare, with only a dozen surviving copies in public collections. The Nashville Parthenon’s copy came to light several years ago and art patrons Hope and Howard Stringer underwrote its conservation so that it could be exhibited.

Stillman, an American painter, photographer, journalist, and diplomat, designed his book so that the armchair traveler could see the Acropolis and it's monuments as a backdrop to the 1869 city of Athens, as well as enter the precinct through the gateway of the Propylaia and wander around each of the ruined buildings, taking in details of their construction and the damage caused by 2,000 years of history.

The museum’s exhibit features the book itself and eight enlarged images with accompanying text. Stillman’s use of large-format glass negatives creates detailed images for the viewers, and his artistic eye gives the viewer a sense of grandeur and place.

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