1821 in Painting: MAIN BUILDING
On September 15, 1844, Prime Minister Ioannis Kolettis visited the Margaritis Brothers in their studio to commission a copy of the large-scale portrait of Karaiskakis for his office. The Prime Minister’s appeal to Greek artists reflects a political and ideological agenda linked to the role and function of historical painting during those critical years. 'Our history needs to be written; you will write it and bring it to life through your images. Our heroes are dying, and their offspring shall seek in vain heroic and patriotic inspiration in their features. You must work, for Greece demands its historical art gallery.'
In the newly formed Greek state art was intended to serve a pivotal political, ideological, and above all educational role: to preserve the memory of the heroes who, through struggle and sacrifice, achieved the independence and gave the nation freedom after long and painful period of Ottoman rule. The sacred figures of the heroes and their achievements were intended to become beacons of patriotism for future generations of Greeks. Historical painting was seen as the ideal medium for reconciliation, purification and oblivion after the nation’s devastating civil strife, which threatened to thwart the supreme purpose of the War – national liberation.
This inaugural anniversary exhibition in the renovated and expanded facilities of the National Gallery brings together the most iconic works inspired by the Revolution. They all come from the National Gallery collections, with the exception of two philhellenic masterpieces by Italian painters which have been loaned by the Anthony E. Comninos Foundation.
Curator: Maria Katsanaki
Duration: 24 March – 31 December 2021