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.
During his residence in Munich, Drossis became acquainted with the founder of the Academy of Athens, Baron Simon Sinas. In 1860 Sinas decided to offer him the commission for the construction of the four pediments on the Academy as well as all the sculptural decoration of the building later on. In the end, Drossis did only the central pediment, whose theme was the “Birth of Athena”. During that same year he presented the model at the Olympia exhibition along with two earlier models, winning the gold medal.
The seated figure of Zeus commands the center of the composition, framed by Athena and Hephaestus, while a little further on Hera observes everything jealously and at the same time Iris is ready to make her joyful announcement of the birth. The remaining groups are connected with the central composition and the ends are closed off with the figures of the rising sun and the falling night. The composition is done in complete agreement with the spirit of neoclassicism and, just as the rest of the decoration of the Academy, serves as a symbol of Greece reborn, while the sculpture itself constitutes an indissoluble part of the architecture done in agreement with ancient prototypes.