New Louvre Exhibit Honors the 200 Years Since the Greek Revolution

PARIS - ATHENS exhibition Louvre Museum
Jacques Rizo, Athenian Evening, Athens © National Gallery-Alexandros Soutzos Museum. Photo: Stavros Psiroukis

This year, the Louvre Museum is celebrating two significant anniversaries with an exhibition titled “Paris – Athens. The Birth of Modern Greece, 1675-1919.”

2021 marks the beginning of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire (on March 25, 1821), as well as the entry of the Venus de Milo sculpture into the Louvre (on March 1, 1821).

According to a statement on the Louvre’s website, the exhibition traces the “cultural, diplomatic, and artistic ties” that have bonded France and Greece since the 19th century. It also shows the impact that the “rediscovery of Greek antiquity” has had on Europe’s view of Greece.

To those who aren’t familiar with the country’s history, the idea of a French museum honoring Greece’s independence might seem a bit strange. In reality, though, Greece’s fight during the War of Independence (1821-1832) had a major impact on many European countries, including France.

French painters, such as Eugène Delacroix, also took it upon themselves to spread knowledge of what was happening in Greece, painting images of the horrors of war to help the Greeks gain support from the French.

Eugène Delacroix, Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi
Eugène Delacroix, Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi © Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux. Mairie de Bordeaux, Photo: F. Deval

The second event celebrated in the exhibit, the entry of the Venus de Milo into the Louvre, is also noteworthy.

The statue was purchased from the Ottomans, despite resistance from Greek locals. It was eventually taken and sent by boat to France on March 1, 1821 (following its discovery in April 1820).

The exhibition will explore the connections between these two events and will help visitors gain a deeper understanding of the ties France and Greece share. It was organized by the following individuals:

  • Marina Lambraki Plaka, director of the National Gallery-Alexandros Soutzos Museum, Athens
  • Anastasia Lazaridou, director of Archaeological Museums, Exhibitions, and Educational Programs at the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, Athens
  • Jean-Luc Martinez, honorary president-director of the Louvre Museum, Paris
  • Débora Guillon, assistant to Jean-Luc Martinez

The exhibition will run through February 7, 2022. Those who want to visit can book their tickets here.