Disquisitions Upon The Greek Vases, And Their Probable Connection With The Shows Of The Eleusinian And Other Mysteries. By James Christie, A Member Of The Society Of Dilettanti.

James Christie the younger

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: Published By Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, And Green, Paternoster-Row., 1825.

Physical Description

xii [i.e. xiv], 146 p., 16 pl. (pl. 12, 15 are fold.): illus.; 278 mm. (Quarto.)

General Note

Between p.x and p.[xi] is inserted an unnumbered leaf listing 'Errata' on its recto. Some copies are without this leaf.


[T.p., add.t.p.] - Preface - Errata - Contents - [Text, with pl.]; [colophon].

Responsibility Note

Most plates are signed as drawn by Tendi and engraved or etched by Ant. Cardon (or 'Cardon bruxellensis'); but pl. 7, 14, 16 are signed by the engraver Cardon only, and pl. 5, 9, 13 are unsigned.

The headpieces of chapters 1, 16 are signed as drawn by A. Tendi and engraved by Ant. Cardon; the add. t.p. vignette, the illustration on p.98 and the headpieces of chapters 2,3 and appendices 1,2 are unsigned.

The printer is named on the t.p. verso and in the colophon: 'London: Printed by A. & R. Spottiswoode, New-Street-Square.'


Royal Institute of British Architects, British Architectural Library ... Early printed books, I (1994), no. 633.

Summary Note

The first, limited edition of this work had been printed anonymously for private circulation in 1806, under the title, A disquisition upon Etruscan vases; displaying their probable connection with the shows at Eleusis, and the Chinese Feast of Lanterns. Christie followed this with An essay on that earliest species of idolatry, the worship of the elements (1814), and in 1817 with Essay on the mysteries of Eleusis by M. Ouvaroff. Translated ... With observations by J. Christie. This 1825 publication is a revised and enlarged edition of the 1806 work.

The prevalence of mythology in ancient Greek art had been noted by Winckelmann; and Hancarville had also stressed the religious origins of art. (In his Preface Christie states that it was Charles Towneley and R.P. Knight who had 'first observed a mystic theology in works of Grecian art' and 'furnished D'Hancarville with a great part of [his] materials'.)

As well as investigating the possible connection between some images on ancient painted vases with Greek mystery religions Christie also suggests that ancient vase-painters made use of transparencies, and in his Appendix offers a possible classification of ancient Greek vase-types.

The plates show representations of myths, taken from vases and gems.


Presented by the author in 1830 (see RA Council Minutes, VII, 361).

Copy Note

Prelim. inscribed in ink, 'Presented to the Library of the Royal Academy, by the Author.'

Binding Note

19th-century black calf, upper and lower covers having gilt borders; spine lettered 'Christie On The Greek Vases' and 'Worship Of The Elements'. Bound with one other.

Name as Subject


Eleusinian Mysteries - Mysteries, religious - Afterlife - Mythology, Greek - Cultus - Symbolism - Iconography
Vase paintings - Vases, Greek - Greece - Italy - History
Art history - Interpretation - Iconology - Great Britain - 19th century