Charles Yriarte
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harles Yriarte was born in Paris on December 5, 1832 from a family that was originally from Spain.

painter, antiquarian, author and historian

born in Paris

He studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts and in 1856 became the inspector of government buildings. Later, he joined the Spanish army as reporter for the Monde illustré on their campaign in Morocco. For this journal, he travelled in Spain and Italy and became its editor after his return in 1862. In 1871, he quit his post to devote his time to travels, whose impressions he used in his works.

In his book Goya: sa biographie, les fresques, les toiles, les tapisseries, les eaux-fortes et le catalogue de l'oeuvre avec cinquante planches inédites d'après les copies de Tabar, Yriarte in his own lifetime wished to cast a new reading of Frederico Goya’s paintings, especially as regards ‘Los Desastres’ – etchings of the Franco-Spanish civil war. According to him, Goya's political canvases were not ‘facts, particular episodes’ based on Verism, but ‘general ideas, analogies, sometimes true, always believable compositions’ (Yriate apud Luxemburg 1998). Through the apparent chaotic placement of figures with no heroic action, and who are buried in a dream-like atmosphere of defeat, fear, and suffering, the painter sceptically portrayed life from a political outlook. [Source:]

Charles Yriarte may have provided background information for Jules Verne's book Mathias Sandorf regarding the Foiba beneath Pisino castle which is found in his works Les Bords de l'Adriatique et le Monténégro. Venise, l'Istrie, le Quarnero, la Dalmatie, le Monténégro et la rive italienne (1878) and Trieste e l'Istria (1874). Yriatre described the old castle as well as his trip down into the gorge. He also mentioned an experiment by a young nobleman, Count Esdorff, one of the officials of the port authority of Pazin, to find the end of the underground river. Unfortunately the count's boat never made it out of the underground cave.

Yriarte died on April 6, 1898. On April 23, 1898, The New York Times wrote the following obituary:

"The death of M. Charles Yriarte at the age of sixty-six years is announced. M. Yriarte, who was of Spanish origin, had studied architecture and was an expert. He followed the O'Donnel expedition to Morocco, and became the artistic correspondent of the Paris Illustration. M. Yriarte made extensive travels in Istria, Dalmatia, Montenegro, and the Balkans. During the Franco-German war he acted as secretary to a General. M. Ferry afterward appointed him Inspector of Fine Arts, and in 1881 he became Inspector General. He was the author of many books of great merit, his subjects being travel and artistic biography. M. Yriarte was a painter of water colors and exhibited in the Salon." [Copyright © The New York Times]
Yriarte by Henry de Montault from Paris grotesque, les célébrités de la rue 1815-63 (1864, 2nd. Ed. 1868)

Selected works

L'Istrie et la Dalmatie

First published in 1875, Yriarte's book L'Istrie et la Dalmatie was reprinted in Croatian in 1999 as Istra i Dalmacija (Istria and Dalmatia), Foreword Miroslav Bertoša; translation Vladimira Mirković-Blažević. Zagreb: Antibarbarus, 1999. 239 pages. The following review was written in Dubrovnik Annals 6 (2002), p. 130-1:

In the 1770s a new interest in the Balkans was awakened in the European public, resulting in a series of French travel accounts at the turn of the century, as well as German travel diaries in the first half of the nineteenth century. The travelogue under review was written somewhat later, in the latter half of the nineteenth century, when French enthusiasm for travelling across the continent and discovering remote places had already diminished. Its author is Charles Yriarte (1832-1898), a late Romantic, who, without any political ambition, ideological or commercial reasons set out on a trip through the Balkans, with the aim to study the people and their historical and cultural heritage. The account reveals seemingly insignificant details of everyday life which are a valuable contribution to understanding the social circumstances prevailing along the Croatian coast in the mid-nineteenth century.

Yriarte travelled through the Croatian coastal area, crossed the Strait of Otranto, and continued along the Italian coast as far as Venice, his ultimate destination. The journey was preceded by most serious preparations, which included the study of maps, published records and diaries of earlier travellers and writers (Xavier Marmier, Prosper Mérimée, Alberto Fortis).

Anonyme, , Charles Yriarte, vers 1860, Paris, musée d’Orsay, ©photo musée d’Orsay / RMN. Épreuve sur papier albuminé à partir d’un négatif verre, contrecollée sur carton, 10 x 6,5 cm.

Apart from the introduction, in which he explains the itinerary and the main reasons of his travel, the book contains one chapter each dealing with Istria, the Bay of Kvarner and its islands and Dalmatia. In the chapter on Dalmatia, the author dedicated a lot of space to Dubrovnik, which at the time of his visit, led a quiet provincial life on the fringes of the Habsburg Monarchy.

"Once acquainted with its history, you step into Dubrovnik imbued with respect", says the author, referring to the city’s centuries-long independence, its magnificent achievements in trade, crafts and art. Yriarte’s stay in Dubrovnik is documented in detail from the moment he disembarked in the Port of Gruž, where he admired the summer palaces surrounded with lush Mediterranean vegetation. The book reveals his consuming interest in the architectural features of Dubrovnik, from deep trenches and towering fortifications, crenellated walls, protruding guard posts, statues of St. Blaise, balconies and stone-paved streets, passionately absorbing the stories and legends wowen into the city’s past. Yriarte made a note of every historical sight within the walls. He started his historical route with Stradun, the high street, which bedazzled him as he made his entrance through the west city gate. His attention was caught by the exterior of the Sponza Palace, once a customs house, a paragon of proportion and harmony. He closely examined the architectural details and inscriptions on the walls or above doors. Yriarte finds striking similarities between the Rector’s Palace and that of the Doge in Venice. He describes the Cathedral and its rich treasury. Yriarte is impressed by the multitude of churches distributed across such a small area. He is disappointed to find that the interiors of these architectural achievements "do not render the idea of the original condition" because of past devastation. Yriarte shows admiration for the Ragusans who, in spite of constant danger, continue to live in the City and its surroundings. As a Romantic, Yriarte admits that Dubrovnik’s rich past truly stirs one’s imagination. Although a part of his account includes legends and oral tradition transmitted by the Ragusan patricians, he was familiar with the historical sources, especially the chronicles, and constructed his own interpretation on the basis of documents available to him from the Archives of the French Foreign Office. In addition, Yriarte writes about the long, drawn-out rivalry between Dubrovnik and Venice, but also about the relations between the Republic of Dubrovnik and its neighbours in the hinterland, stressing the fact that this small Republic was the first in Europe to have an agreement with the Ottoman Empire. His historical interest reaches back to the legendary deeds of Stojko, the priest, who, aided by St. Blaise, saved the Republic. He provides the reader with a detailed account of all the sieges Dubrovnik survived, all of which fortunately ended to the benefit of the city-state.

The travelogue is supplemented with geographical maps and a number of very successful illustrations made by the author. They show realistic portraits (those of young women are exceptional), sketches of events and landscapes, elements of the Croatian cultural heritage — such as pieces of jewellery, celebrated episodes from the period of the Croatian Revival in Dubrovnik and Dal-matia, etc. The text is infused with Romantic historicism and the author’s inquisitive delight, with a strong sense of atmosphere and detail. Although the account harbours historical and geographical inaccuracies, Yriarte’s description of the Croatian coast serves as a useful source of ethnological and anthropological information about the area.

Slavica Stojan


Yriarte, Charles, novinar, publicist, (puto)pisac (Pariz, 1832 - Pariz, 1898). Autor putopisnog i kulturno-antropološkog djela Les bords de l'Adriatique et le Montenegro: Venise, l'Istrie, le Quarnero, la Dalmatie, le Montenegro et la rive Italienne (Paris 1878), koje ga povezuje s istočnojadranskim svijetom i istar. prostorom. Rođen u obitelji španjolskog, vjerojatno baskijskoga podrijetla, u Parizu je stekao vrhunsko obrazovanje i veliku naklonost prema istraživanju i opisivanju znamenitih mjesta iz prošlosti Staroga kontinenta. Napose je upio duh i senzibilitet romantičarskih kulturnopov. i sociološko-antropoloških inovacija koje su »dekadentnim« intelektualnim krugovima Pariza i Europe otkrivale arkadijski sretne, fizički snažne i zdrave primitivce - »dobre divljake«. Slijedeći taj imaginarij (koji će poslije postati stereotip), napisao je temeljit i iscrpan prikaz pejsaža, života i ljudi od Venecije do crnogorskoga priobalja s puno vrijednih podataka i vjerodostojnih crteža. Uz opise obalnih mjesta (napose Pule, Rovinja, Poreča), ostavio je svjedočanstvo i o unutrašnjosti Istre (Pazin, Baderna, Tinjan). Dio teksta s opisom Trsta i Istre preveden je na talijanski (Trieste e l'Istria /con note /, Milano 1875), dok je hrv. izdanje tiskano u Zagrebu 1999. Y. je posjetio Istru, a valja mu pripisati i zaslugu da je —> J. Vernea (koji nikada nije bio u Pazinu ni u Istri) oduševio i inspirirao opisom Pazinske jame i kaštela.


  • P. Tedeschi, Carlo Yriarte, Le rive dell'Adriatico, Archivio Storico per Trieste, l'Istria e il Trentino, Roma, 1883,2;
  • R. Maixner, Charles Yriarte, Annales de l'Institute francais de Zagreb, 1946-1947, 28-29;
  • G. Cervani, La Trieste ottocentesca nella descrizione di un viaggiatore francese, Udine 1983;
  • M. Bertoša, Jadransko priobalje: Reporterski zapisi i romantične vizije Ch. Yriartea, u: Ch. Vriarie, Istra & Dalmacija. Putopis, Zagreb 1999.

M. Bertoša


Charles Yriarte, né le 5 décembre 1832 à Paris où il est mort le 10 avril 1898, est un homme de lettres, journaliste et dessinateur français.

Issu d’une famille d’origine espagnole, il se découvre très tôt des talents artistiques. Il obtient un emploi au ministère d'État et devient inspecteur des Asiles nationaux, puis inspecteur de l'Opéra national de Paris. Parallèlement, il collabore à divers journaux français et étrangers auxquels il contribue à la fois des articles et des illustrations. En 1859, il se joint à l'état-major du corps d'armée espagnol mené par Leopoldo O'Donnell au Maroc et se fait remarquer pour la série d'articles et de dessins qu'il envoie au Monde illustré. De retour en France, il se démet de ses fonctions administratives pour se consacrer exclusivement à ses occupations littéraires et artistiques.

En 1860, il fait une nouvelle série de reportages en Italie, où il se joint aux troupes de Garibaldi en Sicile et visite l'Ombrie et les Marches. Il devient ensuite rédacteur en chef du Monde illustré, dont il dirige également la partie artistique. Il contribue en outre un grand nombre d'articles au Figaro, à La Vie parisienne et au Grand Journal, soit sous son nom, soit sous les pseudonymes de « Junior » ou de «Marquis de Villemer». Les portraits qu'il fait paraître sous le nom du marquis de Villemer sont particulièrement appréciés. Il traduit plusieurs ouvrages de l'espagnol et publie des portraits parisiens, des livres de voyage et des biographies d'artistes, dont certaines font l'objet de luxueuses édtions.


Charles Yriarte (París, 5 de diciembre de 1832 - ibídem 1898) fue un escritor francés descendiente de una familia de origen español. Estudió arquitectura en la «École des Beaux-Arts» y en 1856 llegó a ser inspector de edificios gubernamentales. Más tarde, se enroló en el ejército español como reportero para el periódico Monde illustre y estuvo presente en la campaña de Marruecos. Para esta misma publicación, viajó por España e Italia y llegó a ser redactor tras su vuelta en 1862. En 1871, he abandonó su puesto para dedicar su tiempo a viajar y a recoger impresiones de sus viajes en sus trabajos.

Una de sus obras más importantes en el contexto de su afición por España es el estudio sobre la vida y obra de Francisco de Goya, Goya, sa vie, son oeuvre (1867).


  • Image (top) -
  • Image - Charles Yriarte, Paris grotesque - Les Célébrités de la rue, Paris, 1864. Author: Henry de Montault -
  • Text - (French, Spanish and English)
  • Foiba -

Media articles:

  • December 19, 2013 - "Il Piccolo regala "Trieste" del viaggiatore Charles Yriarte", Il Piccolo (Italiano) -
  • June 4, 2014 - "Yriarte raccontava già nel 1874 la difficile convivenza in Istria", Il Piccolo  -

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Created: Thursday, December 02, 2010; Last Updated: Sunday, April 03, 2016
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