Leonidas Drossis belonged to the first generation of modern Greek sculptors who studied at the Athens School of Arts and were shaped in the spirit of neoclassicism that was brought to Greece by the German sculptor Christian Siegel. Broadening his education at the Munich Academy under Max Widnmann and with trips to Paris, London, Dresden, Vienna and Rome, where he opened a workshop, he would prove to be the most important representative of Greek neoclassicism.
The small plaster model of “Penelope” was made in 1864, when he was in Rome, and was different in a number of ways from the final work on exhibit at the National Gallery: the back of the throne is rendered differently, Penelope holds a woven veil in her right hand instead of a ball of thread while the expression on her face betrays profound grief, in contrast to the fortitude her figure displays in marble. Her pose is influenced by the ancient Greek Pheidian model of “Aphrodite”, a tradition that was carried on in “Agrippina” from the 4th century AD in the Capitoline Museum in Rome and the mother of Napoleon, “Letizia Ramolino Bonaparte” (1804-1807) by Antonio Canova.
Ιn 1870 the small plaster model was exhibited at the Olympia exhibition in Athens, together with the final one, and won the gold medal there.