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The Greek War of Independence in art



The Greek War of Independence in art

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"History painting in the 19th century devoted itself to telling the story of the Greek struggle for independence. The new state quickly established a School of Arts in 1836, recognising 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 were dominant. The heroism, self-sacrifice and bravery of the revolutionaries were 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 prevailed in Europe, fell in love with the Greek struggle for Independence, steered 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 among others. In addition to the well-known Delacroix, there have been many philhellene artists, such as Karl Krazeisen, who painted “field” portraits of the key figures of the revolution and famous philhellenes as they met in the camps and in the National Assemblies. Returning to their home countries, they often published them in albums, which become a huge fad, an early form of war journalism with a romantic flavour. Greek portrait painters, such as Tsokos, Prosalentis and Lembesis, often use these original sketches of the philhellenes for the portraits of the fighters of the struggle. Even in the 5,000 drachma bill of 1984, the well-known figure of Kolokotronis was based on a sketch done by Kratsaizen. "

(From National Documentation Center:

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