Sir John Frederick William Herschel (English, 1792-1872)
"No 391 View from below the Temple of Juno, Girgenti Sicily. Temple of Concord in the distance”, 27 June 1824
Camera lucida drawing, pencil on paper
20.0 x 31.0 cm on 25.1 x 38.4 cm paper
Numbered, signed, dated and titled “No 391 / JFW Herschel del Cam Luc. June 27, 1824. / View from below the Temple of Juno. Girgenti Sicily. Temple of Concord in the distance” in ink in border, and “Concord / 36. Temple of [crossed out] seen from / [illegible] of Juno Girgenti” in pencil.
Herschel told his mother that he found it "a most curious place & full of ruins the Rocks being all honeycombed with houses &c and the Temples superb. I have crammed my drawing cases with views of them."1 To Sir William Watson, however, he was more philosophical: "the ruins of ancient Agrigentum... stand now far aloof from the modern town wh has retreated from ye pestilential influence of ye air to ye summit of a hill 2 or 3 miles off. It is incredible what an awful air this circumstance gives them. One must be on ye spot to feel its full effect. It seems as if they were preserved as monuments of wrath as if the curse which devastated still clove to them & caused them to be at once admired & shunned. It is indeed the beauty of desolation, for finer architectural remains can hardly be imagined."2 In 1928, Girgenti reverted to its classical name of Agrigentum.
1Letter, Herschel to his mother, from Catania, 1 July 1824. LO517, Herschel collection, the Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
2Letter, Herschel to Watson, from Palermo, 16 July 1824. LO494. Herschel Collection, the Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.