Grave Stele of a Youth and a little Girl

Inscribed on the base of this extraordinary Funerary Stele, we read… To dear Me[gakles], on his death, his father with his dear mother set (me) up as a monument. The ancient Greek marble Grave Stele of a Youth and a little Girl in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York city, is worth exploring…

What is a Stele (for the Ancient Greeks)? A Stele (from ancient Greek στήλη-arrange/stand) is a set upright stone slab used in the ancient world primarily as a grave marker but also for dedication, commemoration, and demarcation. Stelae could be inscribed, carved in relief, or painted. During Greek Antiquity, Grave Stelae (επιτύμβιες στήλες) were usually inscribed and decorated with scenes depicting the deceased, usually alone, but sometimes with a servant or relative. The Early Archaic period Grave Stele in the area of Attica, were often inscribed, decorated in relief, crowned by a capital, which extended upwards and supported a sphinx, a demonic being that protected the tomb, and finally painted! https://www.britannica.com/topic/stela

Is the MET Grave Stele of a Youth and a little Girl special? Yes, it is a very special and unique piece. According to the MET experts… This is the most complete grave monument of its type to have survived from the Archaic period. It is also of high artistic quality and a great source of information on how ancient Greek sculptural pieces were painted. In addition, if the name of the youth in the Stele’s inscription is Megakles, as some scholars believe, then the Stele was erected by the Athenian family of the Alkmeonidai, and it is an archaeological discovery of historical importance. The Alcmaeonidai were a wealthy and powerful noble family of ancient Athens. Cleisthenes, Pericles, and Alkeviades were prominent members of the family. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248500

Where was the Marble Stele found, and how did it reach the MET? According to the MET, the Stele is… said to have come from Kataphygi, Attica. The Museum acquired fragments of the Stele in 1911, 1922, 1936, 1938, and 1951. Two parts of the MET Stele are plaster copies. For example, the Girl’s head is in Berlin, and the youth’s right forearm is in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Interestingly, the capital and crowning sphinx, as exhibited in its entirety, are casts of the originals, displayed in a case nearby. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248500

In 1911 the MET acquired a fragmentary shaft, the base, and the acroterion of the Stele from John Marshall in England. A fragment of the youth’s shoulder and arm was acquired in 1922 from M.L. Kambanis in Athens or Paris. The Stele’s marble capital and finial in the form of a sphinx were purchased in 1936 and 1938 through Martin Birnbaum. Fragments of the Stele’s inscription were gifted to the MET in 1951 by Walter C. Baker. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248500 and https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248501

First thoughts and impressions… A few ancient Attic Grave Stelae of the Archaic period survived in their entirety. The three-part Grave Stele of a Youth and a little Girl is probably the best example. Exhibited restored, with the help of plaster casts, the MET Stele, shows how imposing and impressive such a monument could be. With considerable height, 4,23 meters, brilliantly painted, the Stele, seen even from afar,  dominated the Athenian landscape where it originally stood. https://www.greek-language.gr/digitalResources/ancient_greek/history/art/page_063.html

Description… The MET Stele consists of three parts. The lowest part is the Stele’s rectangular base. Inscribed on the base, the unknown artist of the Stele wrote… to dear Me[gakles], on his death, his father with his dear mother set [me] up as a monument. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248500

Marble stele (grave marker) of a youth and a little girl (detail of the youth), ca. 530 BC, Marble, H. 423.4cm, the MET, NY, USA https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/Marble_stele_%28grave_marker%29_of_a_youth_and_a_little_girl_MET_GR46.jpg

The middle part of the Stele has a lot to narrate. The front part of the shaft depicts the full-length representation of the deceased, a young man, an athlete, and thee, a παλαιστρίτη (a wrestler or an athlete trained in a παλαίστρα). In heroic nudity, he holds with his left hand a pomegranate, the mythological fruit of death and fertility. Hanging from the left wrist, an aryballos (a small oil flask) reminds us that Megakles, if that was his name, was an active athlete. Little is known of the little, fully clothed, girl, standing before Megakles, holding, with her left hand, an unidentified flower in front of her face. It has been suggested that the girl in the composition might be a younger sister. http://met-guide.blogspot.com/2011/01/grave-stele-of-youth-and-little-girl_28.html

Marble stele (grave marker) of a youth and a little girl (Finial and detail of the Sphinx), ca. 530 BC, Marble, H. 423.4cm, the MET, NY, USA https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248501 and https://blog.myheritage.com/2022/08/marble-greek-and-roman-statues-were-actually-painted-in-brilliant-colors/

The third, and uppermost part of the Stele, the finial, consists of two members, the lower and the upper. The lower member, in the form of a double capital, was decorated wholly in color, its surface being entirely flat. It is fortunate that enough of the painted decoration survived time, so as to trace the original design… scrolls, making two pairs of volutes, and ‘palmettes’ placed between them. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3252802?seq=3#metadata_info_tab_contents and https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248501

The upper member of the finial is a formidable,  three-dimensional Sphinx, a mythological creature with a lion’s body and a human head, known in various forms throughout the eastern Mediterranean region from the Bronze Age onward. The Greeks, as in the case of the MET Stele, represented it as a winged female and often placed its image on grave monuments as guardian of the dead. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248501

Reconstruction (2022) of a marble finial in the form of a Sphinx by Vinzenz Brinkmann and Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann
https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2022/chroma/exhibition-objects

How is the MET Stele related to the Met Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color Exhibition? For the decoration of the MET Stele, the unknown artist employed sculpture and painting as well. The original colour on the marble MET Stele is unusually well-preserved, especially the colours of the Sphinx. According to Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann and Vinzenz Brinkmann, scientific analyses, photographs with ultraviolet and infrared light, false-color photographs, and archaeological comparisons allowed an almost complete reconstruction of the elegant designs in luminous and precious natural colors. The new, painted reconstruction of the MET Sphinx is a key display in Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color (Through March 26, 2023) Exhibition. https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2022/chroma/exhibition-objects

For a Student Activity inspired by the Marble stele of a youth and a little girl in the MET, please… Check HERE!

If you are interested in visiting or browsing through the Metropolitan Museum of Art Exhibition Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color (Through March 26, 2023), please Check… https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2022/chroma/visiting-guide and https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2022/chroma/exhibition-objects For an Exhibition Video prepared by Art Trip (19:37 min), check… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LFGtqslZAU

The Epiphany of Dionysus Mosaic in Delos

House of Dionysus, Epiphany of Dionysus, 2nd century BC, Mosaic, Delos Island, Greece https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaics_of_Delos#/media/File:Delos_Museum_Mosaik_Dionysos_05.jpg

In Euripides’s Bacchae, it is Teiresia’s role, addressing Pentheus, to introduce Dionysus to the audience, just like the Epiphany of Dionysus Mosaic in Delos does… visually! …You have a rapid tongue as though you were sensible, but there is no sense in your words… [270] This new god, whom you ridicule, I am unable to express how great he will be throughout Hellas. For two things, young man, [275] are first among men: the goddess Demeter—she is the earth, but call her whatever name you wish; she nourishes mortals with dry food; but he who came afterward, the offspring of Semele, discovered a match to it, the liquid drink of the grape, and introduced it [280] to mortals. It releases wretched mortals from grief, whenever they are filled with the stream of the vine, and gives them sleep, a means of forgetting their daily troubles, nor is there another cure for hardships. He who is a god is poured out in offerings to the gods, [285] so that by his means men may have good things! http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0092%3Acard%3D266

House of Dionysus, Epiphany of Dionysus (Detail), 2nd century BC, Mosaic, Delos Island, Greece  https://www.greece-is.com/why-mykonos-became-a-muse-for-the-worlds-most-discerning-travelers/

There is no easy way to describe God Dionysus. The Homeric Hymns 26 on Dionysus is, I believe, a wonderful introduction… [1] I begin to sing of ivy-crowned Dionysus, the loud-crying god, splendid son of Zeus and glorious Semele. The rich-haired Nymphs received him in their bosoms from the lord his father and fostered and nurtured him carefully [5] in the dells of Nysa, where by the will of his father he grew up in a sweet-smelling cave, being reckoned among the immortals. But when the goddesses had brought him up, a god oft hymned, then began he to wander continually through the woody coombes, thickly wreathed with ivy and laurel. And the Nymphs followed in his train [10] with him for their leader; and the boundless forest was filled with their outcry.    /    And so hail to you, Dionysus, god of abundant clusters! Grant that we may come again rejoicing to this season, and from that season onwards for many a year. The Homeric Hymns 26 on Dionysus is, I believe, a wonderful introduction! https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0138%3Ahymn%3D26 

House of Dionysus, Epiphany of Dionysus (Face Close Up), 2nd century BC, Mosaic, Delos Island, Greece https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaics_of_Delos#/media/File:Face_of_Dionysos_(detail),_mosaic_of_the_House_of_Dionysos,_Delos,_Greece,_2nd_century_BC.jpg

The Epiphany of Dionysus Mosaic in Delos shows the God exactly as Homer describes him… splendid, thickly wreathed with ivy and laurel, god of abundant clusters of grapes! An anonymous 2nd century BC mosaicist, created on the island of Delos, at the House of Dionysus to be exact, a stunning mosaic emblema depicting Dionysus in all his glory. Against a black background, the God of wine and theater, ivy-crowned, wings outstretched, holding with his right hand a ribboned thyrsus like he is holding a spear, is shown on the back of a tiger that wears a necklace wreath of vines and grapes around its neck. They seem to ride within the boundaries of a landscape mosaic composition of plants, a beetle, and a kantharos-type cup. Is Dionysus depicted coming back from India, magnificently winged like a daemon? It would be nice if we were certain.

The mosaic in the House of Dionysus is one of the finest examples of Opus Vermiculatum. The tesserae used for carrying it out, measuring about one-millimeter square, were made of glass, faience, terracotta, and natural stones. Their small size made it easier for the mosaicist to produce a realistic figured scene, shading, known to the Greeks as skiagraphia, for three-dimensionality, and a sense of illusionism. The name and origin of the mosaicist are a mystery. The name and origin of the owners of the so-called ‘House of Dionysus’ in Delos is a mystery as well. Today, the House of Dionysus stands out from afar thanks to its huge marble columns that surround the courtyard where the Epiphany of Dionysus Mosaic, one of the most exquisite creations of the Hellenistic art of mosaic-making was placed, for all visitors, to admire.

For a PowerPoint on God Dionysus, please… Check HERE!

House of Dionysus, Epiphany of Dionysus (Detail of Panther), 2nd century BC, Mosaic, Delos Island, Greece https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaics_of_Delos#/media/File:Delos_Museum_Mosaik_Dionysos_09.jpg

Christ Pantocrator in the Byzantine Monastery of Daphni

Christ Pantocrator in the Byzantine Monastery of Daphni… whose great eyes, dark and exorbitant and cast almost furtively over one shoulder, at total variance with His right hand’s serene gesture of blessing and admonition, spell not only pain but fear, anguish and guilt, as though He were in flight from an appalling doom. The only fit setting for such an expression is the Garden of ! Gethsemane; but this is a Christ-God in His glory, the All-Powerful One. It is tremendous, tragic, mysterious and shattering… writes Patrick Leigh Fermor in his travel book Mani. Travels in the Southern Peloponnese of 1958. https://patrickleighfermor.org/tag/mani/ and https://www.biblio.com/mani-by-fermor-patrick-leigh/work/20200

The sight of the Pantocrator image at Daphni is indeed breathtaking, and I particularly like Fermor’s use of adjectives… tremendous, tragic, mysterious, and shattering! Whether Fermor was right or not in his description… whether the Daphni Pantocrator survives today exactly as it was created by the anonymous 11th century Byzantine master… is not easy to answer, but was expertly addressed by Robin Cormack in his 2009 article Rediscovering the Christ Pantocrator at Daphni. Professor Cormack takes his reader on a wonderful journey as he “deciphers” the secrets of this amazing mosaic and the wondrous ways of mosaic restoration. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 71 (2008), pp. 55-74 (20 pages) Published By: The University of Chicago Press https://www.jstor.org/stable/20462776?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3Aefe48f19a158ab3c7526e9941fbf2d9f&seq=20

Visiting the Daphni Monastery has always been a wonderful experience! Built on the slopes of Mount Egaleo in the grove of Haidari, next to the ancient Athenian Ιερά Οδό (Sacred Road) that connected Athens with Eleusis, the site of the eponymous Eleusinian Mysteries, lies the Byzantine Monastery of Daphni. It is only interesting that the Monastery was built on the location of the ancient sanctuary of Apollo Daphnaios, destroyed during the invasion of the Goths in 395 AD. Unfortunately, of the old temple only one Ionic column still remains in the colonnade of the narthex, while the rest were removed by Lord Elgin in the 19th century. http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/2/eh251.jsp?obj_id=1514

According to the Greek Ministry of Culture (ΟΔΥΣΣΕΥΣ site), the first monastic community at Daphni was organized during the 6th century AD and was enclosed by strong defensive walls, almost square in plan. The catholicon was a three-aisled basilica which stood in the center of the courtyard. Along the inner NE side of the walls, two-storied buildings were constructed, containing the cells of the monks. A reception hall and a second block of cells were attached on the north wall of the enclosure. http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/2/eh251.jsp?obj_id=1514

What we see today is the 2nd phase of development and construction, dating from the 11th century (around 1080). The Monastery’s Katholikon is a cross-in-square church of the octagonal type, surmounted by a broad and high dome. It has a narthex, formed as an open portico… The exonarthex was constructed a little later, in the early 12th century and the chapel to the west was added in the 18th century… The porch with the three pointed arches in the west facade of the narthex was added in the 13th century by the Frankish monks and certainly points to western influence… The walls of the church are built in the simple cloisonne masonry with poor brick decoration, restricted on the windows… The monastery is protected by a square enclosure fortified with towers and ramparts, with two entrance gates on its east and west sides. http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/2/eh251.jsp?obj_id=1514

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

For an interesting Video on the Daphni Monastery, please Check… https://www.archaeology.wiki/blog/video/daphni-monastery/

Peplos Kore

The “Rampin Master” (?)
Peplos Kore, c. 530 BC, Parian Marble, H. 1.2 m, Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/statue-kore-peplos-kore

The Peplos Kore was discovered, back in 1886, in the Acropolis of Athens, during excavation work (1885-1889) led by P. Kavvadias. The lower part of her body was lying, broken, along with thirteen more broken statues, mostly female, architectural members, bronze figurines, marble statue bases, a hoard of silver coins, terracotta figurines, and sherds of pottery, in the so-called “Korai Pit” northwest of the Erechtheion. According to the Acropolis Museum experts, the “Korai Pit” is the conventional name for an artificial fill that covered a hollow located northwest of the Erechtheion, in order to create a level plane to receive the new fortification wall of the Acropolis. The hollow was filled with the debris of the Acropolis after it was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC during the second Persian invasion of Greece. The buried treasures of the Acropolis are also known as the Perserschutt, a German term meaning “Persian debris or rubble.” The head of the Peploforos was found near the Korai Pit, and the statue’s torso, a little to the south, in the area of the Old Temple of Athena. https://theacropolismuseum.gr/en/statue-kore-5

The so-called “Korai Pit” northwest of the Erechtheion in the Acropolis of Athens, 1909 photo
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perserschutt

The “Peplophoros” as it is affectionately called by the Greeks, is an Archaic period (c. 600-480 BC) statue of a young female. Statues of a Kore, plural korai, refer to a type of freestanding effigy of a maiden specifically created during the Archaic Period. The Questions and Answers that follow, will hopefully help to better understand their role and importance in the development of Ancient Greek Art.

Can you define what a Kore statue is? Statues of a Kore, plural Korai, refer to a type of freestanding effigy of a maiden. Kore is a draped female figure—carved from marble and originally painted—standing erect with feet together or sometimes with one foot, usually the left, slightly advanced. The arms are sometimes down at the sides, but in most cases, one is brought up closely across the front of the body or is extended, holding an offering; the other is lowered, often clasping a fold of drapery. In the earliest korai, the bodies are so blocklike that they hardly seem to represent feminine form… Later, the drapery became more fluid, with a greater variation in the folds gained by having one hand of the kore pull the drapery tightly across thighs and buttocks. The garments worn by the kore figures changed in style as well, displaying a pattern, either on borders or as single ornaments scattered over larger areas. https://www.britannica.com/art/kore-Greek-sculpture and http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/artifact?name=Athens%2C+Acropolis+679&object=Sculpture

Can you describe the Peplos Kore? The Kore has been named the “Peplos Kore” due to the garment she wears – the peplos. The peplos was fastened in the middle with a belt and on the shoulders with bronze pins which were secured in the small holes that are still preserved. Beneath her peplos, the Kore wears a longer chiton, whose slender folds encase her legs. Spectrographic analysis of the colours has shown that the belt was once blue and green and the chiton blue, with a green band at the neck. The peplos was white – its middle section decorated with vertical rows of small animals, birds, and riders shown on squares of red framed by bands of colourful rosettes on a green background. The peplos borders were decorated by a double band with spirals, floral elements, and a chain of volutes and palmettes alternating with lotus flowers. https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/statue-kore-peplos-kore

The “Rampin Master” (?)
Peplos Kore, c. 530 BC, Parian Marble, H. 1.2 m, Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/statue-kore-peplos-kore

Do we know the name of the artist who created the Peplos Kore? The face of the Peplos Kore is characterized by an interest in converging planes. The eyes and mouth occupy hollows that emphasize these features, separated by strongly protruding cheeks and a broad nose. The details are so close to the face of the Rampin Horseman that the two are often attributed to the same sculptor often called the “Rampin Master.” If true, she must be one of his late works, for she is stylistically much advanced. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/artifact?name=Athens%2C+Acropolis+679&object=Sculpture

Who is the Peplos Kore, and what is she holding in her left hand? We do not know for sure who she was, and what she was holding in her left hand. However, the combination of a very conservative attire for the time the statue was created, leads many scholars to assume this is not a simple votive Kore statue, but the representation of a goddess – perhaps Artemis, who would have been gripping arrows in her right hand, and a bow in her left. https://theacropolismuseum.gr/en/statue-kore-5

Two more Teacher Curator BLOG POSTS on Ancient Greek Archaic Korai… https://www.teachercurator.com/art/daughters-of-eleutherna/ on the Daughters of Eleutherna, and https://www.teachercurator.com/ancient-greek-art/%CE%BA%CE%AC%CE%BB%CE%BB%CE%BF%CF%82-and-the-kore-from-chios/ on the Kore from Chios

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

The Khan Academy Educational Video on the Peplos Korehttps://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/greek-art/daedalic-archaic/v/peplos-kore

An interesting Video by the Cambridge University on the Peplos Kore and the way she was dressed and coloured… https://www.classics.cam.ac.uk/museum/collections/peplos-kore  

A fun Student Activity created by the Acropolis Museum Education Department, and titled Color the Peplos Korehttp://repository.acropolis-education.gr/acr_edu/handle/11174/305

The Bee Goddess of Eleutherna

Gold Pendant with the representation of a Bee Goddess, On the upper torso she is depicted as a female with a Daedalic wig and arms bent at the elbows. The rest of the body resembles an insect, its large wings decorated with stippled rosettes, 7th century BC, Archaeological Museum of Eleutherna, Crete, Greece
https://mae.uoc.gr/exhibits/

On the 20th of May… Let’s celebrate World Bee Day! Let’s observe the importance of the 25,000 to 30,000 species of bees as effective pollinators. According to the United Nations pollinators allow many plants, including many food crops, to reproduce. Indeed, the food that we eat, such as fruits and vegetables, directly relies on pollinators. A world without pollinators would equal a world without food diversity – no blueberries, coffee, chocolate, cucumbers and so much more. The ancient Greeks understood the importance of pollination and revered Bees as the “Divine Queens” of their ecosystem. The 7th century BC Gold Pendant with the representation of a Bee Goddess from Eleutherna in Crete is proof enough! https://www.un.org/en/observances/bee-day/background

The so-called Dark Ages of Greece, when the Eleutherna Gold Pendant with the representation of a Bee Goddess was created, were not dark at all! They were years of adjustment to a new reality, the aftermath years of the Homeric Epos, the years of the naissance of the great Greek art of antiquity. The small Bee Goddess of Eleutherna, a wonderful amalgam of old, and current Cretan traditions, is persuasive in its purpose and beautiful in its artistry. Whoever the pendant’s artist was, he was familiar with the Minoan past of female divine potency and the Homeric, rich literary tradition of metaphors relating the bee to human society. Let’s not forget how Homer (8th cent. BC) compares the Achaean warriors leaving the ships to attend an assembly to a swarm of bees leaving their hive in search of flowers:     From the camp the troops were turning / out now, thick as bees that issue from some / crevice in a rock face, endlessly pouring / forth, to make a cluster and swarm on / blooms of summer here and there, glinting / and droning, busy in bright air.     /     Like bees innumerable from ships and huts / down the deep foreshore streamed those / regiments toward the assembly ground. (Iliad II 86-93, trans. Robert Fitzgerald) https://www.apiservices.biz/documents/articles-en/beekeeping_in_mediterranean.pdf

The small Bee Goddess pendant was discovered in the necropolis of Orthi Petra in Crete and inspired Professor Νikolaos Stampolidis to use it as the logo of the Museum of ancient Eleutherna. This amazing ornament is a composite creation: it shows the bust of a woman, with arms folded over the chest, and the lower body of a bee, with large wings, adorned with dotted flowers. https://www.lamdadev.com/en/the-company/corporate-social-responsibility/culture/commemorative-volume-eleutherna.html?os_image_id-34

Gold Pendant with the representation of a Bee Goddess, 7th century BC, Archaeological Museum of Eleutherna, Crete, Greece
https://gr.pinterest.com/pin/343540277802257776/ and https://www.pinterest.de/pin/91409067412568201/

The city of Eleutherna, on the island of Crete, was of great importance in prehistoric times and continued to be so from the dawn of Hellenic Civilization to the Byzantine era. Systematic excavations organized by the University of Crete under the directorship of Professors Petros Themelis, Athanasios Kalpaxis, and Nikos Stampolidis since 2009, brought to light three sectors of the city and the necropolis at Orthi Petra, enhancing our knowledge of the political, economic, social, religious, and artistic history of the whole of Crete, particularly during the so-called “Dark Ages.” Eleutherna, close to Mount Ida, where the Νεφεληγερέτης (Cloud Gatherer) Zeus was safely born, raised with milk and honey, and protected by the Kourites warriors, is a city that eloquently bespeaks the continuity of the island’s prosperity and its seminal contribution to the genesis of Hellenic civilization. Discover its importance with the help of ELEUTHERA, by Nikolaos Chr. Stanmpolidis, LAMDA DEVELOPMENT, 2020. https://www.latsis-foundation.org/content/elib/book_29/eleytherna-english-l.pdf and https://www.latsis-foundation.org/content/elib/book_29/eleytherna-greek-f.pdf

For a Student Activity inspired by the 7th century BC Gold Pendant with the representation of a Bee Goddess from Eleutherna in Crete, please… Check HERE!

Joseph Karl Stieler’s Portrait of Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris

Joseph Karl Stieler, German Painter,1781–1858   
Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris, 1841, oil on canvas, 72,4 x 59 cm, Gallery of Beauties, Schönheiten-Galerie König Ludwig I, Nymphenburg Palace, Munich, Germany
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portr%C3%A4t_von_Katharina_Botzaris.jpg

The diarist Christiane Lüth (1817–1900), whose husband was appointed personal chaplain to Queen Amalia of Greece wrote about Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris in her diaries: Of the two young ladies-in-waiting, Miss von Wiesenthau was not very well mannered, Catholic and not very pretty, although she talked constantly. The Greek, very beautiful Rosa Botzaris was not agreeable, but stingy and hated everything German. She was poor, but the glory which surrounded the name of her father, the freedom hero, Marko Botzaris, shone its light over her. When she travelled with the Queen, she was much celebrated for her beauty, which was highlighted by her national costume. She hid the fact that she understood the German language and spread dangerous political comments around her which much damaged Their Majesties, her benefactors. It is obvious Christiane Lüth did not like much, either of Queen Amalia’s Ladies in Waiting, but Rosa’s beauty is undisputed, and Joseph Karl Stieler’s Portrait of Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris is an excellent testimony! https://www.kathryngauci.com/blog-105-25-3-2021-a-literary-world-katerina-rosa-botsaris/

Between 1827 and 1850 Joseph Karl Stieler, court painter of Bavaria, was commissioned by King Ludwig I to create 36 portraits of the most beautiful women from the nobility and middle classes of Munich, Germany. These portraits were to decorate the south pavilion of Ludwig’s Nymphenburg Summer Palace. Among these very popular portraits was that of a Greek lady, Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris, the daughter of Markos Botsaris, the hero of the 1821 Greek Revolution. https://arrayedingold.blogspot.com/2011/11/gallery-of-beauties.html

Katerina’s life was not easy. Born to the prominent Souliot Botsaris family, Katerina was the daughter of Chrysoula Kalogirou and Markos Botsaris, the famed, and revered leader of the Greek War of Independence, who died on the night of August the 8th, 1823, at Kefalobryso in Karpeisi, while with 450 Souliotes, ambushed the enemy camp of Mustafa Pasha of Shkoder (modern northern Albania) inflicting serious casualties. At the time, a child of 5 or 3 years old, Katerina Botsaris lived the life of a “hostage” in the city of Drama, at the harem of Dramali Mahmud Pasha, under the protection of upper-class Ottoman women. Katerina was apparently a particularly charming child, so much so that one of her “protectresses” wanted to officially adopt her. It was not meant to be, and during a prisoner exchange initiative, Katerina was returned to her family and reunited with her mother. Many “adventures” later, the orphaned family of Markos Botsaris settled at the newly created Greek state where members of the Botsaris family were to play an important role. https://archive.org/details/poikilstoaethni02raphgoog/page/n299/mode/2up?view=theater

While in Athens, the importance of the Botsaris name, her delightful personality, and great beauty attracted the attention of Amalia of Oldenburg, Queen of Greece from 1836 to 1862 as the spouse of King Otto (1815–1867), who appointed Katerina as her 1st Greek Lady-in-Waiting. In 1841, Katerina Botsaris accompanied Queen Amalia to Munich, the birthplace of King Otto of Greece. Tradition has it that upon arrival, as she was getting out of her carriage King Ludwig of Bavaria noticed Katerina’s Mediterranean beauty and hurried to assist her. Later on, the royal couple of Greece, Otto, and Amalia, suggested Katerina’s Portrait for the Gallery of Beauties, and King Ludwig wholeheartedly agreed. It is said that she was given the name Rosa, leaving behind her real name, from the ruby ​​color of the rose … that her lips and cheeks had… https://www.bovary.gr/oramatistes/15798/roza-mpotsari-i-ellinida-kalloni-kori-toy-markoy-mpotsari-poy-emeine-sto-pantheon and https://www.patris.gr/2021/01/30/katerina-roza-mpotsari-i-kori-toy-iroa/

Katerina “Rosa” Botsari Costume, mid-19th century, crimson velvet, and embroidery of gold cords, National History Museum – Historical & Ethnological Society of Greece (EIM), Athens, Greece
Photograph Credit: Christina Hilla Famel
https://www.huffingtonpost.gr/entry/endema-pseches-apo-te-foresia-tes-kera-frosenes-mechri-tes-rozas-mpotsare_gr_60f6b247e4b0e92dfebc53bb

Stieler’s Portrait of Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris shows a great Mediterranean beauty. Her complexion is glowing and creamy, her cheeks blushed with youth. High arched eyebrows frame a long straight nose and brown heavy-lidded eyes, which look out at us kindly, a light smile drawn at the corners of her mouth. Glossy chestnut hair flows down her neck, blending into the tassel of her jauntily placed hat and the fur collar of her jacket. She poses in front of the blue, tranquil Aegean Sea, and the pale blue but luminous Greek sky… a landscape that is atmospheric and tranquil,  matching her character and demeanor. She wears an exquisite, fitted Kontogouni (vest)of crimson velvet, embroidered with gold cords, a crisp white Poukamisa (shirt), and a full, silk, pleated skirt, emphasizing her feminine shape. The Kontogouni survived time and it is still a prized treasure of the National History Museum of Greece. The artist Joseph Karl Stieler, trained in the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and in the Parisian atelier of François Gérard, a student of Jacques-Louis David, created, inspired by the Greek beauty of Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris, the perfect example of a controlled and romanticized Neoclassical portrait. https://www.art-theoria.com/painting-of-the-month/katerina-rosa-botzaris/ and https://www.nationalgallery.gr/images/docs/books/athina-monacho.pdf pages 546-548

In 1845 Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris married Prince George Karatzas. a military man of Fanariot descent and had four children, two of whom died at a young age. The marriage was not particularly happy due to her husband’s strict and authoritarian character and the death of her children. The beautiful Souliotissa died at the age of 57 in January 1875. https://www.patris.gr/2021/01/30/katerina-roza-mpotsari-i-kori-toy-iroa/

Katerina Agrafioti wrote a book (in Greek) about Katerina’s life… the story of a woman who, always respecting her origin, unreservedly served the social “musts” and overlooked her personal pursuits with the power and dignity she derived from her father’s name.https://www.kathimerini.gr/opinion/707109/aikaterini-roza-mpotsari-sti-skia-toy-onomatos-mythistorimatiki-viografia-apo-tin-katerina-agrafioti-ekdoseis-papyros/ and https://www.ianos.gr/ekaterini-roza-mpotsari-sti-skia-tou-onomatos-0195564

Pietro Luchini,  Italian Painter,1800-1883
Ekaterini Botzaris Caradja, 1845, oil on canvas, 207×159 cm, Private Collection
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ekaterini_Caradja_Botzaris.jpg
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/84/89/14/848914762a7727cfeb43a89aef41f647.jpg

A Damask Rose species bred in 1856, brightly white and very fragrant, was named Rosa Botsaris after her. https://garden.org/plants/view/415/Rose-Rosa-Botzaris/

For a Student Activity, please … Check HERE!

Rose named after Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris
http://diolkos.blogspot.com/2011/07/blog-post_136.html

Monemvasia by Konstantinos Maleas

Konstantinos Maleas, 1879-1928
Monemvasia (Houses at Monemvasia), 1920-28, oil on cardboard, 50 x 57.5 cm
https://museum.bankofgreece.gr/topoianaforas/modern_greek_art/504_Maleas_en.html

Monemvasia by Konstantinos Maleas is one of my favourite paintings…of a city rugged, wildly beautiful, and very historic according to the Byzantine Chronicle of Monemvasia …Τότε δη και οι Λάκωνες το πατρώον έδαφος καταλιπόντες οι μεν εν τη νήσω Σικελίας εξέπλευσαν, οι και εις έτι εισίν εν αυτή εν τόπω καλουμένω δέμεννα και δεμενίται αντί Λακεδαιμονιτών κατονομαζόμενοι και την ιδίαν των Λακώνων διάλεκτον διασώζοντες. Οι δε δύσβατον τόπον παρά τον της θαλάσσης αιγιαλόν ευρόντες και πόλιν οχυράν οικοδομήσαντες και Μονεμβασίαν ταύτην ονομάσαντες διατο μίαν έχειν των εν αυτώ ειςπορευομένων την είςοδον εν αυτή τη πόλει κατώκησαν μετά και του ιδίου αυτών επισκόπου. (…That was the time (maybe 9th century) when the Laconians abandoned their Homeland, some traveled to Sicily – where they live until today, in Demenna, and are called Demenitai instead of Lacedaemonians – still using the Laconian Dialect. Some others discovered an inaccessible place, by the sea-​​shore, where they established a new city, and they named it Monemvasia, because it has only one entrance. This is the city they inhabited along with their Bishop.) https://chilonas.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/cea0ce91cea1ce91cea1cea4ce97ce9cce91-ce94-cea7cea1ce9fce9dce99ce9ace9f-ce9cce9fce9dce95ce9cce92ce91cea3ce99ce91cea3.pdf

Maleas’s painting of Monemvasia belongs to the Bank of Greece which acts as a guardian and disseminator of Greek culture through the activities of its Centre for Culture, Research, and Documentation. In 1928 the Bank began collecting artworks, gradually forming a core of creations by painters of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, who stand out in Greek art history. Up to this day, the Collection comprises around 3,000 works of painting and printmaking, as well as a small number of sculptures, dating until nowadays and highlighting different aspects of Greek art. What an amazing achievement! https://www.bankofgreece.gr/en/the-bank/culture and https://museum.bankofgreece.gr/topoianaforas/index_en.html#home-slider

Monemvasia by Konstantinos Maleas, one of the masterpieces acquired by the Bank of Greece for its Art Collection, is a painting created by the artist during his mature, later period. In 2018, an Exhibition at the Benaki Museum, titled Frames of Reference from the Bank of Greece Collection was organized to celebrate the 90-year anniversary of the Bank’s start of operations, and Maleas’s painting of Monemvasia was presented with great acclaim. https://museum.bankofgreece.gr/topoianaforas/index_en.html#home-slider

The Exhibition experts introduce us to the painting in a masterful way… We are standing on high ground, facing a slope that winds down to the sea and the distant horizon. In the background, the rock of Monemvasia stands grandiose. The landscape is depicted in overlaid colour zones, for us to observe, successively, the slope, the trees, the sea and the rock. The choice of clear and bright colours is interesting, as they capture the intensity, the glow, and the purity of Greek light. The painterly world of Maleas, who has brought a new perspective to modern Greek painting, is defined by geometry. He designs his landscapes with a penetrating look, expressiveness, and wisdom. Details are simplified, reduced to the essentials. The pines are elliptical in shape, the cypress has the form of a cone, and the sea is rendered with a single shade of blue. Yet, the composition as a whole is far from simplistic, as the streamlined individual elements, coupled with the use of very bright colours, bestow it with pulse and rhythm. https://museum.bankofgreece.gr/topoianaforas/modern_greek_art/504_Maleas_en.html

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Off the harbor by Ioannis Altamouras

Ioannis Altamouras, 1852-1878
Off the harbor, 1874, oil on paper mounted on cardboard, 23.3 x 30.5 cm, Bank of Greece
https://museum.bankofgreece.gr/topoianaforas/modern_greek_art/501_Altamouras_en.html

Emily, / A ship is floating in the harbour now, / A wind is hovering o’er the mountain’s brow; / There is a path on the sea’s azure floor, / No keel has ever plough’d that path before; / The halcyons brood around the foamless isles; The treacherous Ocean has forsworn its wiles; / The merry mariners are bold and free: / Say, my heart’s sister, wilt thou sail with me? / Our bark is as an albatross, whose nest / Is a far Eden of the purple East; / And we between her wings will sit, while Night, / And Day, and Storm, and Calm, pursue their flight, / Our ministers, along the boundless Sea, / Treading each other’s heels, unheededly… wrote for Epipsychidion, Percy Bysshe Shelley back in 1821. Off the harbor by Ioannis Altamouras is a small painting that reminds me of Shelley’s description… A ship is floating in the harbour now… https://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/epipsychidion_(excerpt)_5166

Ioannis Altmouras, an accomplished representative of the Seascape painting genre, is one of my favourite modern Greek painters. Born in Italy, his parents were both artists, Ioannis Altamouras was of Greek/Italian descent. He was the son of Saverio Altamura, an Italian Painter, and Professor at the Naples School of Fine Arts, and Eleni Boukouri from the island of Spetses, who, daringly dressed as a young man, studied Art in Italy, at times, under the tutelage of her future husband Saverio. Between 1857 and 1859 his parents separated, and Eleni took her two older children and returned to Greece, where she raised them teaching Art to prominent members of the Athenian society, including the Greek Queen, Olga. Eleni was Altamouras’s first Art Teacher, who, in 1871-72, coached by Nikephoros Lytras, studied at the School of Fine Arts in Athens. Between 1873 and 1876 Ioannis Altamouras was in Denmark, on a scholarship from King George I, where he continued his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts at Copenhagen, close to the great painter of the time, Carl Frederick Sorensen. During the summer of 1876, Altamouras’s revolutionary spirit took him to the fishing village of Skagen, where 40 Danish painters had created the well-known “Skagen Colony”. It was at Skagen where the ideas of Impressionism in his art, took roots, as he spent time outdoors observing, the Skagen open horizon and the interplay of different colors in natural light. Sick with tuberculosis, Altamouras returns to Greece and tragically young, he died, six years later, in 1878. https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/painting-permanent-exhibition/painter/altamouras-ioannis.html

Off the harbor by Ioannis Altamouras is a small painting in the Art Collection of the Bank of Greece, rarely seen by the public but nicely documented as it was exhibited in the 2018 Exhibition at the Benaki Museum, titled Frames of Reference from the Bank of Greece Collection. I like how it is described… A dull, rainy, and humid seascape is revealed in front of us. Small boats are scattered here and there, schematically defined, somewhat vaguely against the background. A little to the fore, we see a few boats painted in dark colours and contrasting the overall blue-white landscape. Their cross-like shape makes them a point of reference for the entire composition. Sea and sky appear united, in the absence of a clear separating line for the horizon. https://museum.bankofgreece.gr/topoianaforas/modern_greek_art/501_Altamouras_en.html

For a PowerPoint Student Activity on Altamouras’s Seascapes, please… Check HERE!

Garden in Corfu by Angelos Giallinas

Angelos Giallinas, 1857-1939
Garden in Corfu, early 20th century, Watercolour on Paper, 39×72 cm, Averoff Museum, Metsovo, Greece https://www.averoffmuseum.gr/garden-in-corfu/?lang=en

“…Tell me, the open codes of flowers, / Lick up the glance to pocket a whole mind. / Nothing precipitates, is left behind, / The island is all eyes. / The silence ponders, notes, and codifies. / We discover only what we set out to find.     /     I am at a loss to explain how writing / Turns this way this year, turns and tends – / But the line breaks off as voices do, and ends…” writes Lawrence Durrell about a One Grey Greek Stone, but somehow I think of the gloriously colourful Garden in Corfu by Angelos Giallinas… My mind plays games… https://poem-today.tumblr.com/post/184801455775/a-poem-by-lawrence-durrell

Angelos Giallinas, an accomplished representative of the Watercolour medium and the genre of Landscape, is one of my favourite modern Greek painters. A Corfiote by birth, Giallinas first studied in his native Corfu at the private art school of Charalambos Pachis (1872 to 1875) but continued his studies in Venice, Naples and Rome, where, exposed to the medium of Watercolour, he decided to adopt it and excel in its intricacies. By 1878, he was back to Corfu busying himself travelling extensively to Constantinople, Asia Minor, Egypt, Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland, participating in the Panhellenic Exhibitions in Athens and presenting his first solo showing in 1886 at the Athenian Club. His talent was noticed by the British Ambassador to Greece, Clare Ford who commissioned Giallinas to paint for him seven albums of landscapes from Venice, Spain, Rhodes and Istanbul. Ford also arranged exhibitions in Athens and in London, which ran from 1891 to 1892, and introduced Giallinas to the European Court nobility. “Giallinas worked for King George I of Greece, and through this connection was patronised by George’s sister, Queen Alexandra, and King Edward VII when Prince and Princess of Wales. Later, Queen Mary, as Duchess of York, visited three exhibitions of Giallinas’s work in London.” https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/painting-permanent-exhibition/painter/giallinas-angelos.html and https://www.rct.uk/collection/929332/garden-in-greece-or-corfu

Angelos Giallinas was never idle. Throughout his artistic career, he exhibited both in Greece and in Europe. His participation at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris was one such important affair while his grand solo exhibition at the Galerie D’Art Geo of 1918 is another. In 1902 he founded his own private Art School at Corfu. In 1907/8 he was commissioned to decorate with murals the Achilleion Palace in Corfu, built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria as her country residence. https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/painting-permanent-exhibition/painter/giallinas-angelos.html

According to the Averoff Museum experts “Angelos Giallinas expressed himself primarily in watercolor. A large portion of his oeuvre comprised landscapes from the island of Corfu, his birthplace and home following his studies in Rome, Naples, and Venice. An extensive traveler, Giallinas made a multitude of watercolor renderings of views and scenes of the places he visited, work that he exhibited repeatedly in Greece as well as abroad. He was associated with the Scuola di Posilipo, founded in Naples by the painter Giacinto Gigante and the best-known school of watercolor technique. Giallinas brought images to paper with a sensitivity and spontaneity particular to this medium, without neglecting the careful attention to detail, which he rendered with an expert knowledge of drawing and the precise arrangement of areas of pure, bright color.” https://www.averoffmuseum.gr/garden-in-corfu/?lang=en

Garden in Corfu by Angelos Giallinas in the Averoff Museum in Metsovo is typical of the artist’s style. A poetic image of springtime, this colourful watercolour echoes the artist’s training in a Classicistic style of Romanticism and presents a well-balanced composition, attention to detail, sensitivity to light rendering and colouristic nuances. What is it not to admire…

For a Student Activity on the BLOG POST Garden in Corfu by Angelos Giallinas, please… Check HERE! https://www.teachercurator.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Giallinas-CorfuGAG-StAct.docx

Corfu Garden http://www.mediterraneangardensocietyarchive.org/87-corfu.html

Clean Monday Feast

Spero Vassiliou, 1903-1985
Clean Monday Feast, 1950, oil on wood, 125×78, Municipality of Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art
https://paletaart.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/%CE%B2%CE%B1%CF%83%CE%B9%CE%BB%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%BF%CF%85-%CF%83%CF%80%CF%8D%CF%81%CE%BF%CF%82-spyros-vassiliou-1903-1985/#jp-carousel-4424

Could Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1–20) introduce us to the theme of Clean Monday with his Old Testament verses? “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Are the following Matthew verses (Matthew 6:14–21)  indicative of the Greek Orthodox festive, springtime atmosphere of Clean Monday? “When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret…” I like to think that the painting Clean Monday Feast by Spero Vassiliou embodies Matthew’s recommendations and presents the glorious Greek Clean Monday at its best!     https://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Isaiah%201:1%E2%80%9320&version=nrsv     and     https://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Matthew%206:14%E2%80%9321&version=nrsv

Austerity and Affluence… two words that best describe, in my humble opinion, Vassiliou’s painting Clean Monday Feast in the Municipality of Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art. Let me explain…

Austerity… in the green, tripod, metal table, centrally displayed, full of traditional νηστίσιμα(fasting foods) humble delicacies that mark the beginning of Lent… for the day, Clean Monday, when relatives and friends celebrate the upcoming period of humility, self-criticism and mutual forgiveness. Vassiliou’s green coloured table displays a piece of Lagana, the unleavened popular bread of the day, Throubes, sun-dried black olives, crunchy spring onions, the grocer’s halva with tasty almonds, the heart of tender lettuce, a deep yellow plate full of crisp, local “greens,”  a white plate with salty, but so tasty red fish roe, and retsina, the Greek resinated white wine, popular in Greece for at least 2,000 years.

Affluence… in the love the artist held for the simple things of everyday life, insignificant at first sight, yet eloquent, meaningful and deeply moving for all the initiates of Greek Clean Monday rituals. Spero Vassiliou’s family tradition for Clean Monday was to invite his friends for a day’s feast on the roof(ταράτσα) of his house, below the Acropolis of Athens! The 1950 painting, titled Clean Monday Feast, is glowingly colourful, brightly sunny, gloriously festive!

Spero Vassiliou “studied painting at the “School of Arts” (later Athens School of Fine Arts) from 1921 to 1926. He was among the students who struggled for the reorganization of the School and who attended the studio of the newly elected professor, Nikos Lytras.” An active member of the Greek Artists Association, Vasiliou put together solo exhibitions as early as 1929, participated in creating stage design and costumes for about 140 plays, and won the prestigious Academy of Athens Award for designing the frescoes in the church of Saint Dionysius Areopagites in Athens. By the late 1940s, Vassiliou was an active member of the Greek intelligentsia representing a style linked to surrealism or pop art with a dominant dose of “aspects of contemporary Greek life in a picturesque and vivid way, sometimes inspired by folklore forms…”     http://dp.iset.gr/en/artist/view.html?id=1080

Municipality of Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art – The original Historic Building in Symi Square
https://www.rodos-palace.gr/discover-rhodes/510/Museums-and-Antiquities/

The painting Clean Monday Feast by Spero Vassiliou is part of the Collection of the Municipality of Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art. The driving force behind the creation of the Municipality Museum was Andreas Ioannou, “a distinguished scholar of modern Greek art, writer and prefect of Dodecanese.” He foresaw the leading role Rhodes could play as a cultural center of international fame and decided, back in the 1950s, to create an emblematic Museum of Modern Greek Art. “For this reason he came in contact with the leading Greek artists, acquired their emblematic works and housed them in the historic building of Symi Square at the entrance of the Medieval City of Rhodes, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”     https://www.mgamuseum.gr/el/to-mouseio/  

Today, the Municipality Museum has 4 very distinct Art Galleries. The original Historic Building on Symi Square is the center where Engravings of the 19th – 20th centuries, Publications and Posters will be exhibited. The “Nestorideion Melathron” houses the Museum’s permanent collection of 20th century Modern Greek Art, including Vassiliou’s Clean Monday Feast. The Modern Art Centre, situated at the main thoroughfare in the Medieval Town “Palaio Syssitio,” has been chosen as the center for the first permanent exhibition dedicated to the famous and characteristic Rhodesian Ceramic Art. Finally, in 2010, the Museum inaugurated a new center dedicated to the cultural activities of the island.     https://www.mgamuseum.gr/el/to-mouseio/

Get enthused by Spero Vassiliou’s Painting Clean Monday Feast and prepare a Student Activity inspired by the depicted Kites! Use a List of ONLINE sites to find out what best suits your students! Click HERE!