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The Acropolis

Francis Wey, "Of the Influence of Heliography upon the Fine Arts", The Photographic Art-Journal, Vol.2, No.2, August, 1851, p.107 [Translated from La Lumière.]
Fifteen months ago M. Le Baron Gros, then Minister Plenipotentiary to Greece, preserved by means of the daguerrreotype a view taken of the Acropolis of Athens. Ruins, sculptured stones, and fragments of every kind were scattered around. On his return to Paris, at the close of a delicate and honorably accomplished mission, M. Le Baron Gros revived the remembrances of his voyage, and observed, with the aid of a magnifying glass, the heaped-up fragments in the first plan of his view of the Acropolis. Suddenly, by means of the powerful glass, he discovered upon a stone an antique and very curious figure, which had till then escaped him. It was a representation of a lion devouring a serpent, engraved in a hollow, and of a remote age, and this unique monument was attributed to an art which flourished about the Egyptian epoch. The microscope has permitted this valuable memorial to come to light, revealed by the daguerreotype, at twenty-one hundred miles from Athens, and to have restored to it proportions easily accessible to study. Thus, this vast mechanism renders faithfully what can be seen, and what the eye cannot distinguish, so well, that, as in nature, the spectator, by approaching more or less near, with the aid of graduated lens, perceives infinite details when the tout ensemble of the pictures no longer furnishes sources of study. It is conceived that heliography, acting on a plain surface, copies the picture and effect with mathematical accuracy. There is in this a valuable resource for obtaining excellent models for the use of engravers; but the very superiority of the result condemns to perish as insufficient every other copy limited to imitation alone, without co-operation of thought, which enhances with a peculiar spirit the representation of the original. 



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