The ancient world and classical thought have been an inexhaustible source of inspiration for modern Greek art over time, in terms not only of imagery, but also of the ideas developing around it. Right from the beginnings of modern Greek artistic expression in the mid-19th century, mythological figures, scenes from ancient history and depictions of archaeological sites provide the context for delving into the past and searching for classical values such as measure, harmony and beauty.
Especially during the period from Otto’s reign (1832-62) till the end of the 19th century, a keen interest in features and values associated with the ancient world was in tune with a more general turn to the past in an effort to link the Greek state with its ancient history, as well as with Western Europe, where Neoclassicism had already revived these values. As far as painting and sculpture are concerned, Greek artists aspired to connect both with ancient art heritage and with contemporary classicist ideals.
In the Bank of Greece Collection, a number of artworks from the 19th and the 20th century demonstrate how antiquity has served as a frame of reference in modern Greek art, while also revealing the artists’ personal quests, the artistic tendencies and perceptions of the time, as well as the underlying messages to their different intended audiences.