In 1834, just after the capitol of Greece had been moved to Athens, a German artist produced this watercolord sketch (left) of the main plateia at Nauplion, showing a column. The column stands beside a former mosque, and has the base of a minaret, but the rest is a fluted Greek column, and a fluted column of extraordinary size. This image was much reproduced in various forms.
The same year, another German artist produced a sketch of Ag. Giorgios -- a former mosque -- at another plateia, with this same column and base beside it (right). This is what artists did then, before, and after -- cut and paste, rearrange, enlarge, blur -- to make their point. And in both of these sites, remnants of a minaret base can be located, but another contemporary image of the first site shows no base or column.
[Note: 27 February 2012. This column has been solved and has nothing to do with what follows. A Bavarian woman who lived across from Ag. Giorgios in 1834 wrote this:
In front of the cathedral [Ag. G.] facing our house is, as I told you before, kind of a loggia, 3 doors open into the church, at one side is the bell tower, surely unique, like a top decoration of a cake, 2 bells hanging toneless between the little columns, a piece of string attached to them is just hanging down and tied to a nail, even small street urchins can reach it (to my despair). Behind the campanile rises a Turkish minaret of the same height, broken down to half size so as not to darken the campanile completely.
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No source before 1571 mentions such a column, but sources before 1571 hardly mention any structure but the defense walls.
In fact, it is almost a certainty that an earlier artist produced a column because an image drawn a year earlier by one Zenoi ( a Greek living in Italy?) shows a construction in the same position, but one apparently borrowed from an image of the Hippodrome in Constantinople. The Hippodrome had assorted columns and constructions down the center, and presumably this attenuated pyramidal shape is what could be expected "over there" in Greek-speaking lands.
Italian artists took to Zenoi's idea, rather than to Camoccio's, and Valeggio employed it in 1576, making the column-pyramid a little more vertical and giving it some tiny people.
Rosaccio used it in 1598, working both from Camoccio and one of the other pyramid people. He replaced the tiny people with helmeted soldiers and added a rider with helmet and sword.
None of the written sources ever got around to mentioning a column, or a pyramid.
A whole slew of Venetian images of Nauplion came out of the 1686 reconquest (see the previous blog) and the subsequent thirty-year Venetian Occupation. While these often showed minarets, none of them showed a column.
And there the column problem could be left, except that it reappears in those images up above produced just after Independence. There is probably no connection between those German drawings and the Italian engravings, beyond the idea that Greece = columns. Still, there is one more, really problematical picture that takes the column in a completely different direction,
In this excerpt from a 1839 watercolor of Nauplion -- a huge blurry watercolor from a vantage point that never existed of a city with a degree of grandeur that never was-- Skene paints a tall tower on the slope of the hill. This tower has windows, and rises five stories above the three-four story houses around it. No pre- or post-Independence sources on Nauplion -- and there are a lot -- mentions a tower, or column, or pyramid.
Once again, thanks to The Nauplion of the Foreign Travellers by Aphroditi Kouria for the pictures.,