Parthenon, Athens, Greece Parthenon, Athens, Greece

“Here, in 1924-1926, Stillwell first confronted the great monuments of classical antiquity, in a Greece that was better suited to the hardy traveler than to the casual tourist.”

– T. Leslie Shear Jr., Professor Emeritus, the Department of Art and Archaeology

Richard Stillwell (1899-1982), Princeton ’21 and *24, contributed enormously to the fields of classical archaeology and the history of architecture over his long and prolific career. He was dually committed to both Princeton University, where he was the Howard Crosby Butler Memorial Professor of the History of Architecture from 1926 to 1967, and to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, where he rose from Assistant Professor to Director of the School. Stillwell directed excavations at Corinth, the Athenian Agora, Antioch, Kourion, and Morgantina. In addition to teaching in both locations and publishing the results of five excavations across the Mediterranean he still had time to be Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Archaeology from 1954 to 1973. 

Richard Stillwell wearing flower wreathRichard Stillwell wearing a flower wreath in Delphi

Stillwell enjoyed field work immensely and was referred to affectionately by his students as “Digger Dick.” For years Stillwell inspired hosts of undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Art and Archaeology. Former student and Professor Emeritus William A.P. Childs offers this: “He was a kind, dry man with great warmth; he may not have laughed a lot but he usually smiled. He had a bottomless fund of tales about his early travels and advice on how to shave with a straight edge in a train or how to drink moonshine from a gallon jug. He was a thoroughly decent man.”

The photographs exhibited here were digitized in 2019 by undergraduate students directly from Stillwell’s collection of negatives. Unfortunately, while there is a contemporary list identifying the images, it does not include the date of each photograph. Most of the images were taken on tours arranged by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Because of the number of photographs featuring Stillwell and the handwriting on the back of the prints it appears that most of these photographs were actually taken by Richard Stillwell’s wife, Agnes Ellen Newhall. 

Agnes Ellen Newhall graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1927 and spent subsequent years, until 1935, on a series of fellowships at the American School of Classical Studies where she directed the excavation of the Potters’ Quarter in the excavation of Corinth, Greece, and where she met her future husband. Her Potters’ Quarter publication, in three volumes, is a significant scholarly accomplishment and a notable contribution to the discipline. 

Visual Resources has reached out to Richard Stillwell’s granddaughter, Dr. Camilla MacKay, herself an archaeologist, to share these images and for her to compare them to his diaries, which are in her possession. This collaboration will provide the Stillwell family with high resolution copies of the photographs and the department information on their creation. 

Even in retirement Stillwell put his considerable organizational and editorial skills to work in the 1967 and 1971 publications of The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites and The Chapel of Princeton University respectively. Though Richard Stillwell died in 1982 his contributions to archaeology and architectural history will continue to be felt around the world but particularly in Athens and here in the Department of Art and Archaeology.