Thematic exhibition

Greek War of Independence in art

Τhe Greek War of Independence through works by Greek and philhellene artists of the 19th century.
Προσωπογραφία Αναγνωστόπουλου,  Βρυζάκης Θεόδωρος, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 GR
National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum

History painting in the 19th century devotes itself on telling the story of the Hellenic Struggle for Independence. The new state quickly established a "School of Arts" in 1836, recognizing the institutional significance of art and the ideological role it could play in shaping a national consciousness.

In the first period of Greek art after the War of Independence, historical scenes and portraits are dominant. The heroism, self-sacrifice and bravery of the revolutionaries are projected as a moral example and as a testimony to historical continuity.

In history painting, the works are monumental, large in size, compositions are theatrical and staged and the style is quite rigid, in the steps of academic romanticism. At the same time, the philhellenic movement, which, in the spirit of Romanticism that prevails in Europe, falls in love with the Greek struggle for Independence, steers towards an idyllic genre painting. One of the main painters of historical scenes was Theodoros Vryzakis, who was an orphan of the War of Independence (his father was hanged by the Turks), but also Tsokos, Gyzis, Kriezis amongst others.

In addition to the well-known Delacroix, there have been many philhellene artists, such as Karl Krazeisen, who paints "field" portraits of the key figures of the Revolution and famous Philellenes as they meet in the camps and in the National Assemblies. Returning to their home countries, they often publish them on albums, which become a huge fad, an early form of war journalism with a romantic flavor. Greek portrait painters, such as Tsokos, Prosalentis and Lebesis, often use these original sketches of the Philhellenes for the portraits of the Struggle Fighters. Even in the five-thousand drachma bill of 1984, the well-known figure of Kolokotronis was based on a sketch done by Kratsaizen.