Three Nineteenth Century Gems in the Library of the Archaeological Museum of Istria

The library of the Archaeological Museum of Istria holds in excess of 45 thousand bibliographic units and is one of the best-stocked specialised libraries in Croatia. The lion’s share of the publications is from the fields of archaeology, history and art history. The majority is comprised of collections of periodicals, while the remainder is made up of bound publications.

The publications presented here have been singled out as showcase monographs that provide historical and illustrated portrayals of nineteenth century travels undertaken by the authors that included Istria.

Lavallée, J. – Cassas, L. F., Voyage pittoresque et historique de l’Istrie et de la Dalmatie, Paris 1802.


This volume includes prints by French painter Louis François Cassas dated to 1782, as compiled and published in 1802 by Joseph Lavallée. Cassas was a French painter and illustrator. In the spirit of early classicism and pre-romanticism he was interested in antiquity monuments and the spaces around them, an interest that saw him undertake a journey along the eastern shores of the Adriatic, from Trieste to Split, creating drawings and watercolour depictions of these monuments on the way. Lavallée was a versatile figure in the French enlightenment and a highly esteemed polymath of the revolutionary and imperial periods in Paris. He was very highly educated, a passionate art enthusiast, and fluent in a number of languages. He compiled the text based on the Cassas travel diary, not citing it in its original form but rather re-telling it and supplementing it with his own additions, in spite of the fact that it described travels in regions he had never visited. In the first part (the “historical voyage”), Lavallée describes the geography and to some extent the ethnography of the Istria and Dalmatia regions and their inhabitants. In the second part (the “picturesque voyage”), Lavallée follows Cassas on his journey through Istria and Dalmatia, relating his diary in a third person narrative and complementing it with the writings of other authors (including Albert Fortis). The original diary has, unfortunately, been lost. The illustrated section includes sixty-eight separate plates and three plates printed as vignettes at the beginnings of the chapters on pages with text, with the descriptions at the end.

The book has a lavish layout and is particularly valuable on account of the copper-plate etchings and copper-plate engravings created by the leading French engravers of the second half of the eighteenth century and based on the watercolours produced by Cassas. Among other monuments they depict the antiquity heritage of Pula as it appeared in the late eighteenth century, prior to the rapid development of the city in the nineteenth century. The work of Cassas had a major impact among classicist architects and artists in France. During one of his trips to Italy the great German polymath and writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe noted that Cassas’s drawings were exceptionally beautiful and that they had given him an abundance of ideas.

Cassas is also the author of all the plates depicting individual monuments and their reconstruction except for one, the ground plan of Diocletian’s palace, which he adopted from and attributed to Clérisseau. The book originally consisted of fourteen volumes, later bound as a single tome consisting of 190 pages numbered with Arabic numerals. A subscription was undertaken to collect the funds needed to print the work. As a point of interest we should note that the first name on the list of subscribers, provided at the opening of the volume, was that of Napoleon Bonaparte, which was, of course, not by chance. Bonaparte had his eye on Istria and Dalmatia as part of the French campaign of expansion into parts of the Mediterranean dominated by England. The French gained control of these areas in 1806 and we should not rule out that the first consul and future emperor championed the publication of the work a few years earlier to further these policy objectives. Other subscribers include a number of his generals, the king of Great Britain, the Russian emperor, various princes, art enthusiasts and libraries. There were a total of 280 subscribers for 764 copies of the book. How many remain extant and where they are cannot be determined with certainty—some are known to us from library catalogues while a number are held in private collections.

Allason, T., Picturesque Views of the Antiquities of Pola in Istria, London 1819.

Thomas Allason was an English architect, surveyor and landscaper. He first visited Pula in 1814 on his way to Greece. He had a particular interest in antiquity architecture and was attracted by Pula’s own monuments from the period. He returned to Pula in 1816 to study them in greater detail and make drawings of them. He came to Pula from Trieste while travelling with English artist J. R. S. Stanhope. He published a series of copper-plate etchings of antiquity monuments in Pula in his Picturesque Views of the Antiquities of Pola in Istria, along with a travelogue of sorts in which he recorded abundant data on Pula and its antiquities. He was acquainted with the drawings and writings of his predecessors on the subject of Pula, including those of Jacob Spon, George Wheler, James Stuart, Nicholas Revett and Robert Adam, and was able to compare the state of the monuments and of the town as a whole over a period of almost two hundred years.

The book is divided into three parts. In the introduction the author expounds on his motivation for publishing this book, noting that he aimed through his drawings and descriptions to raise awareness in the public at large of the beauty of the monuments in Pula and the state of complete disrepair he found them in following the brief French administration of the area. The second part includes drawings of the amphitheatre, the Temple of Augustus, views of the backs of the temples dedicated to Augustus and Diana, the Arch of the Sergii and the Porta Gemina. Each is accompanied by a detailed description that includes their history and their condition at the time. The third part of the book offers a history and a geographic description of Istria and Dalmatia and a description of the inhabitants of these regions. Allason notes that he was greatly aided in these descriptions by the itinerary found in Voyage pittoresque et historique de l’Istrie et de la Dalmatie.

Allason dedicated the book to the Society of Dilettanti, which had long expressed an interest in Pula and wished to erect a building of its own at Piccadilly modelled after the Temple of Augustus in Pula, an idea that was ultimately abandoned. It was a society of aristocrats and scholars founded in 1732 that sponsored the study of antiquity art. Its members supported important expeditions to Greece and Turkey, which resulted, among other things, in publications that set the stage for the development of archaeology as a serious scholarly pursuit. This philanthropic society still exists and its sixty members include esteemed scholars, museum curators and directors, owners of historical collections and historians.

There are ten engravings and four illustrations in the book. Depicted along with monuments in Pula are the Acropolis in Athens and a view of Trieste from the sea. The plates were engraved by W. B. Cooke, George Cooke, Henry Moses and Cosmo Armstrong. The book was published in 1819 by John Murray, one of the leading and most influential publishers in Great Britain.

Yriarte, C.,Les bords de l’Adriatique et le Monténégro: Venise, l’Istrie, le Quarnero, la Dalmatie, le Monténégro et la rive Italienne, Paris 1878.

The travelogue, and culturological and anthropological work, Les bords de l’Adriatique et le Monténégro: Venise, l’Istrie, le Quarnero, la Dalmatie, le Monténégro et la rive Italienne was written by Charles Yriarte, a French journalist, publicist and travel writer. Strongly influenced by romanticism, he travelled the Balkan area and studied the people and their historical and cultural heritage. The objective of his voyage was to tour the full length of the Croatian coast, the mainland interior of Istria and Dalmatia, to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and down to Montenegro, from whence he took the Italian side of the Adriatic back up to his point of departure in Venice. He wished to bring readers closer to this, as he called it, “forgotten” part of Europe. He describes it as an unexplored, virgin territory and, wishing to describe it as best as possible, produced numerous sketches to accompany his descriptions, which he created, as he says, while riding horseback, under the sun, in heavy rain and in the last rays of the day’s light. He has particular praise for the handful of artists who, relying on their intuition, ‘filled out’ these sketches and successfully realised what his drawings only hinted at.

He dedicated the work to the Italian queen consort Margherita of Savoy, wife of Umberto of Savoy, a very popular and central figure among conservatives and the Italian monarchy, celebrated by poets, authors and the media of the time as a symbol of moral reform.

The book includes an introduction, which lays out the programme and objectives of the journey, and a further eleven chapters. Steeped in romanticism, Yriarte offers a thorough and exhaustive description of the landscapes, life and people from Venice to the Montenegrin coast, with an abundance of valuable information and reliable drawings. Along with descriptions of coastal towns (Pula, Rovinj, Poreč) he also tells of the Istrian interior (Pazin, Baderna, Tinjan). His work was very well received among French intellectuals. The book delighted Jules Verne (who never visited Pazin or Istria) and its description of the Pazin sinkhole, the gorge that leads to it, and the castle perched on the rock directly above, inspired him to pen his fantastical adventure novel Mathias Sandorf (1885).

This travelogue features 257 engravings and seven maps. Although Yriarte’s description of his travels contains numerous historical and geographical inaccuracies, having relied heavily on oral sources, his journalistic/essayistic portrayal of the Croatian coast of the Adriatic Sea offers much useful information of an ethnocultural and historical nature.






Inv. br. S 1823/2002


Voyage pittoresque et historique de l’Istrie et de la Dalmatie, rédigé d’après l’itineraire de L. F. Cassas par Joseph Lavallée... - Paris : [printer (Firmin?) Pierre Didot], 1802 - VIII, 191 pages, [67] leaves with plates ; large folio (55 cm)

On the inside cover, title page, the bookplate (ex-libris): DOGMERSFIELD LIBRARY – Leather covered cardboard binding, gilding on the spine. – The plates are protected with transparent paper. – Well preserved text block, humidity stains.

Inv. br. K 174/2016


Picturesque views of the antiquities of Pola, in Istria : the plates engraved by W. B. Cooke, George Cooke, Henry Moses, and Cosmo Armstrong. – London : printer John Murray, 1819 - [page 9], 67 pages ; 4 illustrations, 10 engravings ; large folio (55 cm)

On the inside cover, title page, the bookplate (ex-libris): Edward Odell. – Cardboard binding. – The engravings are protected with transparent paper. – Well preserved text block, humidity stains.

Inv. br. K 241/2014

YRIARTE, Charles

Les Bords de L’Adriatique et le Monténégro : Venise, L’Istrie, Le Quarnero, La Dalmatie, Le Monténégro et la rive Italienne. – Paris : printer Librairie Hachette et Cie, 1878 – [page 8], 639 pages ; 257 engravings in the wood-engraving technique, 7 geographic maps ; 4˚ (34 cm)

Device (printer’s mark) on title page. – Cardboard binding illustrated and decorated with gilding, gilding on the spine. - Well preserved text block, humidity stains.




Allason, T. 1819. Picturesque Views of the Antiquities of Pola, in Istria, London.

Kečkemet, D. 1969. Antički spomenici Pule na slikama i u opisima stranih autora od XVI do XIX stoljeća, Jadranski zbornik, 7, Rijeka - Pula, 549-590.

Kečkemet, D. 1978. Louis François Cassas i njegove slike Istre i Dalmacije 1782., Rad JAZU, knj. 379, Zagreb, 7-200.

Lavallée, J. 1802. Voyage pittoresque et historique de l’Istrie et de la Dalmatie, Paris.

Lavallée, J. 2017. Viaggio pittoresco e storico nell’Istria e nella Dalmazia, Trieste.

Rakić, M. 2010. Splitski spomenici u putopisu Cassasa i Lavalléea, Kulturna baština, 36, Split, 59-82.

<raspoloživo na:>, [12.9.2018.]

Stojan, S. 2001. Charles Yriarte, Istra & Dalmacija, Anali Zavoda za povijesne znanosti Hrvatske akademije znanosti i umjetnosti u Dubrovniku 39, 514-515.

<>, [5.9.2018.]

Yriarte, C. 1878. Les Bords de L’Adriatique et le Monténégro : Venise, L’Istrie, Le Quarnero, La Dalmatie, Le Monténégro et la rive Italienne , Paris.

Yriarte, C. 1999. Istra i Dalmacija : putopis, Zagreb.

<>, [15.10.2018.]


Three Nineteenth Century Gems in the Library of the Archaeological Museum of Istria


Carrarina 4, Pula

 Window to the Past

4. 12. 2018. – 4. 2. 2019.

Exhibition and text author by: Adriana Gri Štorga

 Organizer and publisher: Archaeological Museum of Istria

 For the organizer and publisher: Darko Komšo

 Editorial Board: Darko Komšo, Adriana Gri Štorga, Katarina Zenzerović

 Set up & graphic design: Vjeran Juhas

 Photographer: Tanja Draškić Savić

 Exhibition coordinator: Monika Petrović

Translation in Italian: Elis Barbalich-Geromella

 English translation: Neven Ferenčić

 Proofs: Irena Buršić, Giulia Codacci-Terlević, Adriana Gri Štorga, Milena Špigić, Sunčica Vrbanić Peruško, Katarina Zenzerović

 Print: MPS Pula

 Print run: 700

 Pula, 2018.

Typo3 site by Ulisys d.o.o. , 2010.