Greeks fighting among ancient ruins, 1829
Peter Heinrich Lambert von Hess (1792-1871)
Oil on canvas, 33 cm x 27 cm
© The Thanassis and Marina Martinos Collection

Τhe Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens presents the exhibition titled “Antiquarianism and Philhellenism: The Thanassis and Marina Martinos Collection”. This rare and original exhibition curated by Art Historian Dr Fani Maria Tsigakou and Professor Nikolaos Chr. Stampolidis, includes important European artworks (oil paintings and sculptures) of the nineteenth century and Greek Neoclassicism in dialogue with ancient masterpieces.

The overwhelming majority of pieces displayed are from the Thanassis and Marina Martinos Collection, a unique treasure trove of Philhellenic chefs d’oeuvre, which is presented to the public for the first time. These are European, philhellenic artistic creations, as well as works by Greekartists inspired by subjects of antiquity, in dialogue with authentic antiquities from major museums in Italy and Greece, such as the CapitolineMuseums of Rome, the National Archaeological Museum of Venice, the Ostia Archaeological Museum, the National ArchaeologicalMuseum in Athens, Ancient Eleutherna, and the Rethymnon Archaeological Museum.

The exhibition enhances the antiquarian aspects of the philhellenic movement, which occurred before, during, and after the Revolution of 1821. Antiquarianism was the Europeans’ most enduring link with Greece. As the Revolution of 1821 progressed, it was transformed into philhellenism and was imprinted visually in European works of art. After the founding of the Greek State, philhellenism was adopted by Greek Neoclassical artists’ intent on demonstrating the unbroken continuity of the ancient Hellenic heritage.

The ancient masterpieces discourse with their Neoclassical versions inside the emblematic Stathatos Mansion, splendid example of Greek Neoclassical architecture, designed by Ernst Ziller, which was the home of the family of Othon and Amalia Stathatos until 1938. The public will have the unique opportunity of seeing the interior of an actual haut bourgeois European residence of the nineteenth century, while living a theatrical experience. The space has been transformed by Chloe Obolensky, who signs her first set design for a museum exhibition, togetherwith Andreas Georgiadis.


The Thanassis and Marina Martinos Collection is the rich harvest of a quest over many years, silently and systematically, guided by knowledge and good taste, the criterion of quality and the consciousness of personal responsibility for saving artworks with Greek subjects, which at once epitomize the artistic currents of the period and embody fundamental components of Neohellenic self-awareness. The greater part of the Collection comprises works of European art to which the term “Philhellenic” is attributed. The philhellenic artistic creations were the most expressive means of disseminating the ideology and the values of the movement, aim of which was the moral and material support of the Greek Revolution.

The Collection, a philhellenic treasure trove, spans a wide horizon of artistic genres and includes oil paintings, sculptures, prints, diverse objets d’art (figureheads, clocks, utilitarian or ornamental porcelain objects, furniture, jewellery), which reflect the popularity of philhellenic subjects. They also enable us to appreciate the extent of the philhellenic repertoire, which was developed along two basic thematic axes – the religion and the ancient heritage of the insurgent Greeks.

The superb quality, the variety and the excellent condition of the works are basic preconditions for forming this unique Collection, which is an a fascinating treasury of philhellenic chefs d’oeuvre, the majority of which, moreover, were created close in time to the historical events and are imbued with a genuine philhellenic spirit.

Enhancing the unbroken continuity of the Modern Greeks with their ancient ancestors, which was pivotal to forging the identity of the Greek State and defined its ideological orientations, determined also the aesthetic choices of Greek art in the newly-founded State. It is fortunate indeed that the Collection includes also works by Greek artists, particularly sculptors, who transmuted the Classical ideal by assimilating the Neoclassical style.

Curators' Guided Tour


The exhibition curators, Dr Fani-Maria Tsigakou, art historian and Prof. Nikos Stampolidis, Director of the Museum of Cycladic Art, guide us through selected exhibition highlights.


Explore online all exhibition artworks as displayed in the Stathatos Mansion, an emblematic example of Greek Neoclassical architecture built in 1895 by architect Ernst Ziller, which has been transformed into the interior of a nineteenth-century haute bourgeoise European residence, designed by Chloe Obolensky and Andreas Georgiadis. Explanatory texts and detailed descriptions of the artworks complement the virtual tour.

Αll works © The Thanassis and Marina Martinos Collection, unless otherwise stated.

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