This volume of essays focuses principally on the collection of books of British and Irish antiquarian scholars held in the Gennadius Library. Collectively, the essays are the product of two thematically-linked conferences: the first of these was held in Athens in June 2010, and was organized by the School of Art History and Cultural Policy, University College Dublin, in collaboration with the Gennadius Library, and graciously hosted by the Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies; the second, held in Dublin in June 2011, was organized by the School of Art History and Cultural Policy, and hosted by the Humanities Institute of Ireland. The major premise explored in the paper sessions of those conferences, and in this volume, concerns the work of some of the most pioneering British and Irish 18th and early 19th century antiquarians, artists, and architects who voyaged into the Mediterranean. The publication of their findings in architectural treatises, travelogues and illustrated books came, in turn, to inform international movements of art and architecture; specifically, the Neoclassical and Greek Revival styles.
Collectively, these books capture the allure of the broader Mediterranean world for scholars of antiquity ever expanding beyond the well-traveled boundaries enjoyed by Grand Tourists exploring issues such as topography, history, cultural mores, dress and, of course, art and architecture. Print and book culture was at the core of the early modern period, not least in the world of architecture, and the conscious effort to gather and disseminate knowledge of the wider classical world through this medium is remarkable. The significant contribution of British and Irish scholarship to this broader European discourse is here viewed through the lens of the extraordinary book collection held in the Gennadius Library.