The Enchanted Ones (2003)

The classical figures known as Las Incantadas – the ‘Enchanted Ones’ – formerly stood above the marketplace in Thessaloniki, Greece.

In 1753, the British artist James Stuart made drawings of the figures, from which he created engravings for his book The Antiquities of Athens – a work that had great influence on the European taste for Greek art and architecture.

A century later, in 1864, the French archaeologist Emmanuel Miller had the figures removed and shipped to Paris, where they are now on display in the Louvre.

This work depicts four of the figures – Nike, Aura, Dioscurus and Ganymede – and, in each case, Stuart’s engraving is juxtaposed with a photograph taken in the Louvre.

In the 18th century, Stuart’s pictures would have been seen as reliable ‘documentary’ evidence of what these figures looked like. But they are obviously very different from the contemporary photographed figures.

Some of the differences may be due to time, but others are down to the imaginative projection of the artist. So where does documentation end and imagination begin?

This work was commissioned for the exhibition Archaeologies, curated by John Stathatos and shown at the Byzantine Museum, Thessaloniki, and the City Museum, Athens, in 2002.

1 Nike