For a long time, archaeologists were only able to provide reasonably accurate depictions of the original archeological finds with the help of illustrators – Emile Gilliéron was one of them. The popular image of minoan life we have today is due to his work under the supervision of british archaeologist Arthur Evans.
Gilliérons career begins working for Heinrich Schliemann, a millionaire investing in the restoration of archeological finds. Schliemann confronts Gilliéron with three pieces of an ancient fresco and demands a reconstruction of the entire picture. When Gilliéron is able to construct various possible alternatives of the fresco, Schliemann is delighted and hires him.
After Schliemanns death, Gilliéron finds employment at Athur Evans excavation. The significant fragmented finds need to be reconstructed. Working for Arthur Evans who strived for recognition and fame, Gilliéron is in the right place at the right time to develop his talents of illustration and imagination to the full. The skillfull illustrator quickly finds an artistic mode of expression of the style of bronze age Crete. Europe and Amerika quickly became gripped by minoan fever. The newly discovered art inspires designers and artists from all over the world – although the interpretation mostly arised from Gilliérons imagination. Gilliérons simply invented to frescos new because his boss wanted to depicture the minoan empire.
Gilliérons son Emile Jr. accompanies him to the excavation. Just as his father, he has a talent for drawing and imagination, paired with entrepreneurial skills. The Gilliéron offered expensive replicates of the restored archeological finds. Father and son sold the exclusive items to their international costumers demanding outrageous prices. But they did not only place replicates on the market. There are also indications of criminal activities such as art forgery. Ivory figures found by Evans are made of material which is, according to scientific analysis, dated near the century the excavation took place.
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