Raffet`s Album of litographs

Modern History
paper, typographic ink
lithography, printing
H = 51.5 cm; W = 33.5 cm

    Raffet`s Album of litographs

    Text: Cornel-Constantin Ilie

    Publishing place: Paris, France; Artist: Raffet, Denis Auguste Marie; Editor: Gihaut Freres, Boulevart des Italiens 5; 

    Typographer: Auguste Bry, 142 Rue du BacThe four volumes, accompanied by two atlases with drawings and lithographs from “Voyage dans la Russie méridionale et la Crimée: par la Hongrie, la Valachie et la Moldavie” were published for the first time in Paris, between 1840 and 1842. The work was going to be translated into several languages and was going to be published in several editions. The first volume contains the history of the Demidov expedition and offers the most detailed information about the Romanian space. The following volumes are dedicated to the scientific research in Crimea (botany, anatomy, geology etc.). 

    One of the two atlases contains drawings related to the scientific part of the expedition, the other one contains lithographs related to the “historic” part. The latter, made by Auguste Raffet, has 100 boards including the best drawings made by the artist during the expedition, among which there is a rich set of lithographs on the topic of the Romanian space (here including, besides Moldavia and Wallachia, Bessarabia – presented by the author in the chapter entitled “Meridional Russia”, and Banat – included in the chapter dedicated to Hungary): 

    Berger du Bannat (Drenkova), 7 Juillet 1837/ A shepherd from Banat

    Enfants Hongrois sortant de l’Ecole, Orșova, 8 Juillet 1837 / Hungarian children going to school

    Paysans Valaque (Valachie), 1837 / Wallachian peasants

    Relai Moldave (Moldavie), 1837 / Relay station in Moldavia

    La Jok – Danse Valaque, Tchernecz (Valachie) 9 Juillet 1837 / La Joc – A Wallachian dance

    Tour de l`horloge bâtie pendant l`occupation turque. Giurgevo (Valachie) / The clock tower built during the Ottoman rule

    Barbier tsigane – foire de Giurgevo (Valachie), 11 Juillet 1837 / Gypsy barber – the fair in Giurgiu

    Foire de St. Pierre a Giurgevo (Valachie), 11 Juillet 1837 – Saint Peter’s Fair in Giurgiu

    Eglise de Saint Georges, Bukharest (Valachie), 13 Juillet 1837 – Saint George’s Church

    Assemblée générale des boyards, Bukharest (Valachie), 16 Juillet 1837 – The General Assembly of Boyars

    Infanterie valaque défilant au pas de course – Bukharest (Valachie), 16 Juillet 1837 / Wallachian infantry marching 

    Ronde valaque exécutée par des tsiganes et dansée par les musiciens du 2e Regt. chez le prince Ghika, Ghospodar de Valachie, Bukharest, 16 Juillet 1837 / Wallachian Ronda played by gypsies and danced by the musicians of the 2nd Regiment at the palace of Prince Ghica, the ruler of Wallachia

    Passage de Bouzéo (Valachie), 17 Juillet 1837 / Buzău Pass

    Poste aux chevaux (Moldavie), 19 Juillet 1837 / Horse relay station

    Famille tsigane en voyage (Moldavie), 19 Juillet 1837 / Gypsy family on the road

    Vue de Yassi prise du balcon de l`Hotel de Saint-Petersbourg (Moldavie), 19 Juillet 1837 / The city of Iași seen from the balcony of Sankt Petersburg Hotel

    Eglise et tour des trois saints, Yassi (Modavie), 20 Juillet 1837 / The Trei Ierarhi Church

    Cour générale de la quarantine de Skoulani (Bessarabie), 24 Juillet 1837 / The quarantine at Sculeni

    Eglise Grecque a Bukharest (Valachie), 15 Juillet 1837 / The Greek church in Bucharest 

    Halte d`une caravane moldave transportant du charbon (Bessarabie), 5 Août 1837 / The halt of a Moldavian caravan that was carrying coal 

    Poste aux chevaux (Bessarabie), 5 Août 1937 / Horse relay station

    Arrivée a Kicheneff (Bessarabie), 4 Août 1837 / The arrival in Chișinău

    Télègue de poste (Bessarabie), 1837 / Mail-cart

    The atlas with boards owned by the National Museum of Romanian History is an edition from 1848, published at Gihaut Freres in Paris. The album has an introduction written by Demidov, the table of contents, the texts with the explanations of the images and the 100 lithographs made by Raffet. Besides the ones referring to the Romanian space, the album includes lithographs that depict people and places from: Hungary, Crimea (the first and the second part), the Voznesensk Plain (Ukraine), Turkey. Most of these lithographs are dedicated to the social types in Crimea. The last 16 boards contain the portraits of 12 of the expedition members: Demidov, Frederic Le Play, Auguste de Sainson, Alexandre Nordmann, Amédée Huot, Raffet, Jean Henri Leveille, Adolphe Du Ponceau, Louis Rousseau, Paul Kolounoff, Henri Malinvaud, Leon Lalanne.

    Some text boards and some lithographs are missing from the copy at NMRH. However, most of these have been purchased separately, so the atlas could be completed. It is also worth mentioning that there are editions of chromolithographs, which are obviously rarer and more valuable from the artistic point of view.

    The Demidov Expedition 

    In 1837, Prince Anatoli Demidov organized a scientific expedition, in which 22 specialists from various domains took part. The “scientific” coordinator of this adventure was Frédéric le Play, a French engineer, sociologist and economist. The results of the expedition, which cost 500000 franks, were published in four volumes, to which two lithographic albums were added, published starting from 1838 and seeing more re-edits throughout time. Quite a generous space, especially within the first volume, is granted to the territory inhabited by Romanians, Demidov describing the history of the Principalities (starting with the Antiquity), administration, institutions, education, the legal system, the monetary system, economy (subsoil resources, agriculture, livestock breeding), infrastructure, customs, mores, language, climate, demography and the social structure. 

    Demidov’s expedition started on the 14th of June 1837, in Paris. From Budapest they traveled along the Danube, aboard the “Francisc I” ship. On the 7th of July they were at Drencova and on the 8th of July at Orşova. Near Orşova “the river route ceases to be practicable for large ships, because of the crags and the sinuous and fast currents, just like cataracts that obstruct and furrow the river bed of the Danube”. They continued the journey in flat-bottomed boats that had eight oars, admiring Tabula Traiana, “an impressive memory, which you are so surprised to find in this desert, on this shore, which had been still so Barbarian before Trajan brought his legions here”. At Orsova they are accommodated in “the only and shabby inn of this small town”. From here they would have wanted to continue their road on land to Schela Cladovei, where the steam boat was waiting for them, passing through Mehadia, well known for its mineral water baths, known since the Roman times, but the flooding of the road ruined their plans. In Orsova, a city with “three perpendicular streets on the Danube River and two other parallel streets (...), with few residents”, they visit a lazaretto, where they find an official which introduces himself as none other than the personal physician of prince Milos Obrenovici of Serbia! 

    They left Orsova by a new and bigger boat and passed by Ada-Kaleh, “a flat island, placed in a pleasant location, covered with grass and diverse vegetation, where groups of shacks, found in one of the saddest conditions, could be seen”. From Schela they continued the journey by “Agro”, a ship of the Austrian Danube navigation company, having an Italian captain and a crew made up of Romanians and Hungarians. The Romanian territory seems, at the first sight, unattractive: “a desolate and deserted plain, several huts of beaten earth covered with briars, this is the landscape seen by the traveler waiting for the departure of the steam ship at Schela”. Before the departure they visit the village of Cerneti (the 9th of July), where they are struck by the very Oriental aspect of the settlement, spreading “along a winding street, lined with shops and eaves which further narrow the passage”. The shops are dirty and have repulsive goods; as it was a holiday, everyone was standing “idly” – the men were smoking while crouching in front of the doors, and the women, with a “languid physiognomy“, having “slow and idle“ conversations. At Cerneti they witnessed a Romanian dance which was “full of character and originality”. They noticed the young Romanian sergeant “with a tall and proud head”, who was leading the dance and one of the “Bohemians” who were playing the violin, a character of an “admirable” beauty and which was enduring the sergeant’s stick hits with a “stupid obedience”.

    After a journey without too many adventures they found themselves “under the fallen walls of Giurgiu” (the 11th of July), where they made demarches to gather the post horses, to take them to Bucharest. They gathered 24 horses “from a small breed, thin, without a pedigree”, but which had “a special vivacity and energy and were as fast as an arrow”. The horses were harnessed to two carts and headed towards the capital of Wallachia with a part of the travelers, while the others were to be transported within the second “round”. For a few times they got stuck in the mud on the plain stretching between the two towns, which had few villages and travelers. However, they found the villages animated by the violins of the Gypsies, the dances of the robust swarthy peasants or by the “nasal voice of the old women who were chanting traditional songs that Dacian and Roman ears would have heard in the days of Decebalus and Trajan”.

    They reached Bucharest on the evening of the 12th of July and they hardly found accommodation at “the local boyar club, situated in the theater building”. Shortly afterwards, they received a visit from an officer, sent by the ruler Alexandru Ghica, while a permanent guard was sent to watch over the two carts. The first location visited in the capital was the Turkish baths; on the second day, they were going to be received, for one hour, by the ruler. Prior to the visit they went through the city to see “the high society of this capital, who were having their daily ride, in their usual equipages, according to their habitual pattern”.

    This walk does not leave much of a good impression, because it is taking part “on a big street, full of dust and insects” where, every evening, you can meet “the whole elite of this nation which changes its mores daily, as often as they change costumes”. In the carriages they notice ladies and gentlemen dressed according to the western style, along with boyars with white beards and calpacs. While visiting Alexandru Ghica, they are impressed by the qualities of the Romanian ruler, a “gentleman” with “a high spirit” and “respect and love for the public well-being”. 

    On the 13th of July 1837 the other travelers, who had remained at Giurgiu, reached Bucharest as well. They had time to visit the city which “is a mixture of ruins and new buildings”. In the center of the town, there is “a circular market, with a tall tower in the middle; this area alone is as big as Giurgiu: this is the place where shops and coffee houses are clustered, with groups of smokers seated in a circle in front of the entrance. One could also see two or three inns, with a deceiving and pathetic aspect, where the traveler couldn’t find anything to eat but sherbet and nowhere to sleep but on the billiards table”.

    Near the town, a fair was held: “an almost endless plain, where a thick cloud of dust was rising, was almost entirely covered with tents, huts, carts and animals. And in this confusion without match, order or police, and at the same time without noise, the traders were exposing their merchandise. They were selling fabrics, clothes, furs and food, everything by the dozen”. And once again they notice the Romanian dance (“you could see fifty or sixty dancers, dressed in various scenic costumes, in a circle dance”).

    Demidov and his journey companions have time to visit Bucharest and make observations on the people and the places. The capital reveals itself to them as “a big town, whose streets packed with people accomodate various shops, in which activity replaces luxury. A whole neighborhood is filled with fur shops and tailors workshops. The streets, which had an uneven width, are poorly lined and especially badly paved; some of them didn’t even have a pavement. Most of the houses are nothing but cottages made of decaying wood, amongst which others with a more pretentious architecture are rising”. The travelers are impressed by “the wide variety of costumes and figures”. They visit the Museum (of Antiquities), where they leave a sample of Siberian platinum, the Library, “which owns almost seven thousand volumes” and the high school with “young students wearing a beautiful uniform”. Then they visit the military hospital and the one in Pantelimon, which makes a good impression on them. On the 15th of July they attended the meeting of the Public Assembly; in the afternoon of the same day they were invited to the Ruler’s residence, and in the evening they went to the theater where they watched a “very cheerful” German comedy. On the next day, they witnessed the Bucharest garrison maneuvers, being invited by the prince Constantin Ghica; afterwards, they went to a dinner party hosted by the Ruler, where, after the dinner, they watched the Romanian dances (“We were so impressed by the severe precision and the dancers’ ensemble that the Ruler wanted to extend this entertainment for our pleasure; he also ordered that the musical compositions, full of a naïve and original grace,(…) which animate this Romanian dance, Hora Românească, should be transcribed for us”. In the evening, they took part in a ball held by the great boyar Filipescu, where they found a society that was “purely agreeable (…) where the high spirits are constantly united with the sweetest joy”. “There was a venerable symbol of this country’s situation, which swiftly adopted the pleasures and free manners of the Occident. The severe boyar robe was vainly trying to oppose this invasion of modern fashion and frivolities”.

    According to Demidov, Bucharest had over 60000 inhabitants, over 10000 houses, 26 monasteries, 95 churches, three printing offices, two hospitals, two newspapers; the city was divided into five arrondissements – yellow, red, blue, green, black. The usual food of the population was mămăliga (“cornmeal or millet porridge, a sort of polenta”), and the “main” beverage was plum brandy. 

    They left Bucharest on the 17th of July, and for the rest of the journey through Wallachia, they had the support of the Ruler Alexandru Ghica, who sent word beforehand to “ensure an impeccable service for us”. They crossed the Ialomita River aboard a ferry, but afterwards a storm took them by surprise on the plain that turned into a “deep marsh”. They barely managed to cross the Buzau River, which was whirling because of the flood, but they couldn’t cross the Ramnic River and they spent a night in the carts and in the hovel of a peasant that “had nothing to offer them but bread, which even a horse from a modest breed would have refused”. On the 18th of July they reached Ramnic, where they made a stop at a house “built according to the Italian architecture”, owned by the boyar Niculescu, afterwards continuing their trip to Focsani, where they were welcomed by Gheorghe Razu, the “president of the district”. 

    In Moldavia, the convoy is accompanied by a group of gendarmes during the “oppresively monotonous” journey. They spend the night in Barlad and on the 19th of July they continue their journey into a country “even more beautiful and incomparable to that part of Wallachia that we have seen while passing by.” Once they reach Iasi, they stop at the St. Petersburg hotel, “where the signs of one of the most hospitable courtesy were waiting for us”. The things were not exactly like that, because the hotel, with a sumptuous exterior, did not offer the comfort desired by some tired travelers. On the 19th of July, Demidov was received by the Ruler Mihail Sturdza, on which occasion he noted “a remarkable eloquence (…), the proof of an extraordinary education”. Iasi is a city which “offers a satisfying view: the modern buildings show an extraordinary taste and exterior cleanliness which the old edifices miss. Some streets are spacious and long, and in some of the districts the old wooden flooring, uncomfortable and pricy, which was once covering the public roads, was replaced with pavement (…). The main street of the town is populated by a whole lineage of merchants, usurers, courtiers, business middlemen of any kind, all of whom are Israelites…”. The town has quite a few “remarkable” churches, of which the Trei Ierarhi is standing out. The Moldavian boyars pay due respect to education and “the college attended by the young people from the good families is gaining importance every day”.

    On the 24th of July the expedition reached the customs in Sculeni, where the travelers stopped for a few days, in quarantine. On the 4th of August they reached Chișinau, from where they would continue their journey to Crimea. 

    The correct and balanced attitude that Demidov had towards the Romanians (between other things, he acknowledges their Dacian-Roman origins) is to be appreciated. As Nicolae Iorga was saying, Demidov left “one of the richest sources on the organic statutes in the Principalities. 

    Auguste Raffet (1804 - 1860)

    Denise Auguste Marie Raffet was born on 1st of March 1804, in Paris. His father, Claude-Marie, fought in the army of Napoleon I, and after he left the army, he dealt with commerce before becoming a postal clerk. In 1813 he was assassinated in the Bois de Boulogne woods. The period which followed was harsh for the little Auguste, forced to abandon his studies due to the financial struggle. He worked as a woodcrafter to make a living; with the money he earned he paid for painting classes, standing out through his great talent and specializing in porcelain decoration. In 1824 he was accepted into the École des Beaux-Arts in Switzerland and the next year he published his first drawing album which contained, mainly, military figures. Afterwards he worked in the workshop of the master Charlet from Moussy-le-Vieux, where he learned the art of lithography; he then moves into the workshop of Master Gros, where he realizes a series of lithographs with themes from Antiquity. He starts being more and more solicited, his drawings illustrating the books of Walter Scott, Thiers or Chateubriand. 

    In 1837 he accompanied the prince Anatoli Demidov in his scientific journey that was organized by him in Hungary, Romania and Crimea. A beautiful friendship was going to form between him and the Russian Prince, which would last until the end of the artist’s life, Raffet was also going to take part in the expedition that Demidov organized in Spain, in 1847. Besides the published lithographs published in the Demidov album, Raffet left a multitude of other drawings as well as some journals, published posthumously, in which information referring to the Romanian space can be found. 

    He died at Genova, on the 16th of February 1860; he was buried in Paris in the Montpamasse cemetery. 

    Anatoli Demidov (1813-1870) 

    He was part of a rich Russian family, which earned its wealth after the mining exploitations in the Urals and Siberia. His father, Nikolai Nikitici Demidov, was an ambassador in Paris and following his death in 1828, Anatoli moved abroad, rarely visiting his native homeland. He also held the nobility title of Count of San Donato, after purchasing the principality with the same name from the Duke of Toscana. He spent lots of money on goodwill actions and for supporting the Russian culture. Even so, he did not earn the appreciation of Tsar Nicholai I, to whom he dedicated the volumes published after the expedition in 1837. In 1842 he was elected as a member of the Swedish Royal Science Academy. He was married to Princess Mathilda, the daughter of Jerome Bonaparte, the former king of Westphalia during Napoleon’s reign.