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Watercolour - Theatre of Myra, now Demre, in Lycia
  • Theatre of Myra, now Demre, in Lycia
    Cassas, Louis-François, born 1756 - died 1827
  • Enlarge image

Theatre of Myra, now Demre, in Lycia

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Lycia (painted)
    Turkey (painted)

  • Date:

    1808 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cassas, Louis-François, born 1756 - died 1827 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ink and watercolour, on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, Shell International and the Friends of the V&A

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case 112, shelf 1

Cassas was a skilled draughtsman, painter of picturesque landscapes and figure subjects, and an indomitable traveller. After studying in France and Italy, he went to Sicily and then joined an expedition to Dalmatia and Istria [modern Yugoslavia.] In 1784 he left France for Constantinople with the Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier, the French Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Later that year he embarked on a journey to Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Cyprus and Egypt, returning January 1786; later that year visited Asia Minor and the Greek Islands. He returned to Rome in 1787 and then settled in Paris 1791-2 where he published several large volumes of engravings after sketches made on his travels.

The ruins in this watercolour are recognisable as those of ancient Myra in Lycia, now modern Demre on the south-west coast of Turkey. However, the lush vegetation, the numerous trees, the lake, the waterfalls are a fantasy. Romantic ruins were seldom romantic enough in reality to satisfy the intense longings for a past imagined golden age which many classically educated patrons, like the Ambassador, shared. In the 18th century there was a prevailing belief that Nature could safely be improved on, and so the artists obliged. Nearly as always in the work of Cassas, the groups of Turks and Greeks smoking, picnicking or making music act merely as additional decoration, or `staffage’ giving a sense of the scale of the picture. However, the Turks did (and still do) like to take their `keyf’ or placid enjoyment in the open air, so Cassas would have seen and sketched such gatherings in his travels.

Physical description

Watercolour drawing

Place of Origin

Lycia (painted)
Turkey (painted)


1808 (painted)


Cassas, Louis-François, born 1756 - died 1827 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Ink and watercolour, on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Signed and dated L.F. Cassas f. 1808.; on the back inscribed with title, and on two labels attached to the back of the frame, inscribed similarly and 24. Vue prise sur la côte de l'Asie
Mineure, par Cassas.

J.RUSE 1806
paper watermarked


Height: 57 cm, Width: 77.8 cm

Object history note

According to Rodney Searight: - `Bt Christies, June 1970, £84'.

Historical context note

Cassas's title of `Caramancie' is derived from the Turkish `Karaman', the lands of the Karaman dynasty, who were early rivals of the Ottomans. The theatre was in the city of Myra in Lycia, its name in classical times. The modern name for Myra is `Kale' or more recently `Demre.'

Descriptive line

Watercolour, `Vue du Theatre de Cacanie en Caramancie', 1808 [Theatre of Myra, now Demre, in Lycia], by Louis François Cassas

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

B. Llewellyn, 'Changing Views of the Middle East Watercolours from the Searight Collection', The Antique Dealer & Collectors Guide, September 1983, pp.50-3.
Searight, Rodney. The Middle East : watercolours and drawings by British and foreign artists and travellers, 1750-1900, from the collection of Rodney Searight, Esq. London, 1971




Watercolour drawing




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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