Legal and administrative basis

In 1834, the kingdom of Greece received a law on the protection of historic monuments, which was fairly elaborate and contained a principle that has often been quoted since: 'all objects of antiquity in Greece, being the productions of the ancestors of the Hellenic people, are regarded as the common national possession of all Hellenes'. At the end of the act it read further: 'those objects also which have been handed down from the earlier epochs of Christian art, and from the so-called Middle Ages, are not exempt from the provisions of the present law'. (Brown, 1905:217f). With this law, prepared with the assistance of German advisers, particularly professor Ludwig Maurer, Greece became - alongside Hesse-Darmstadt34 - one of the foremost lands in terms of conservation legislation in Europe. In practice, however, monuments of Classical Antiquity received the most attention, and - as in Italy or even in France - mediaeval structures were often destroyed in order to reveal more ancient remains underneath.

In June 1834, Leo von Klenze (1784-1864), Hofbauintendant of Ludwig I, was sent to Greece on a diplomatic mission to support Otto against internal intrigues surrounding his throne; but the official reason for his visit was to advise on the planning and building of Athens as a new capital. Concerning the latter, Klenze divided his task into three parts: the master plan of Athens, the public buildings (especially the royal palace), and the question of the Acropolis. A masterplan had already been prepared by Gustav Eduard Schaubert (1804-60) from Breslau and Stamatios Kleanthes (1802-62) from Macedonia in consultation with Karl Friedrich Schinkel, their teacher in Berlin in 1825-28. Some building activities had been started accordingly, and even if Klenze did not agree with various aspects of the plan, he had to limit himself to

proposing alterations. He also made several proposals for the royal palace, but in the end it was built by his rival Friedrich von Gärtner (1792-1847). His recommendations for the Acropolis, instead, were of great significance for the protection and restoration of its monuments, as well as for the organization of the archaeological survey in Greece.35

On his arrival in Greece, Klenze travelled through Corinth, Mycenae, Argos, Tiryns, Epi-dauros and Aegina; thus he had many opportunities to observe the complete neglect of the remains of Greek antiquity. In Athens, this grew into a kind of nostalgia, which made him decide to use his diplomatic status to do something useful for these venerable and abandoned remains of Greek art and history. Klenze heard stories that showed the confused situation - an Austrian brig stealing antiquities from Delos, an Englishman prising off half a figure of the frieze of the Parthenon with a hammer, American officers trying to break and steal ornaments from the Erechtheion. The truth is that many Greeks felt little or no concern for their monuments, and even Kapodistrias had not believed anything was to be learnt or derived from the monuments of ancient Greece. But Klenze wanted to safeguard them for the future and to prove to Europe that the young king and the Greek government took more interest in them than the disregard of many of its employees led one to believe. He proposed that all major monuments of Greece should be subject to regular supervision, including twelve principal sites in addition to Athens: Aegina, Eleusis, Delphi, Rhamnus, Sounion, Hieron of Ask-lepios near Epidauros, Corinth, Mycenae, Bassae, Messene, Delos and Olympia. He further proposed that war invalids or pensioners should guard the sites and accompany the visitors, and that a regular survey should be undertaken by provincial inspectors under the control of a Generalkonservator. By 6 September 1834 this proposal was accepted by the government, and twelve pensioners were promptly employed to guard the Acropolis.

Klenze's recommendations also included guidelines for the restoration of ancient monuments, and he pointed out that if nothing was done, one could foresee the moment when the last trace of their form would disappear. He proposed to start excavation and restoration on the Acropolis immediately, and gave priority to the preservation of the Parthenon due to its position as a landmark in Athens and to the dignity it would lend to the status of the new nation. Klenze listed some thirty sites in Athens for protection, including together with the Acropolis, the Agora, the Thesion, the Gate of Hadrian and the Temple of Zeus. The list also contained less obvious but potential sites, such as 'ancient ruins', 'possible remains of a monument erected by Herodes Atticos'. He showed special interest even in small Byzantine churches with wall paintings, built out of the spoils of Antiquity, now threatened by destruction due to new development.

As Generalkonservator, with overall direction, Klenze recommended Dr Ludwig Ross (1806-59), historian and archaeologist from Holstein, who had studied classical philology in Kiel and Leipzig, and had arrived in Greece in May 1832. He was employed as Assistant

Figure 4.13 The Acropolis of Athens before demolition of Turkish houses in a drawing by Stuart and Revett in Antiquities of Athens. (1787,vol. II)

Conservator in Nauplia and had acted as guide to both Klenze and the royal family. For the technical direction Klenze proposed Schaubert and Kleanthes, who had made the master plan for Athens. Ross and Schaubert were approved, but instead of Kleanthes the government appointed the Danish architect Hans Christian Hansen (1803-83). In 1836, due to some conflict, Ross resigned, and his position was given to Kiriakos Pittakis (1798-1863), an archaeologist from Athens.

The Archaeological Society of Athens, founded in 1837, took a certain responsibility for the works on the Acropolis, in terms both of financing and supervision. In 1844-5, they had the remains of the Turkish gunpowder magazine removed from the north porch of the Erechtheum and opened the north entrance. The participation of foreign institutions also increased; schools and academies were created in Athens on the model of those in Rome. The French Academy of Rome, at first reluctant, allowed students to travel to Greece from 1845 onward, when a Society of Fine Arts was also founded in Athens. A number of studies were undertaken on the Acropolis and other sites;36 projects included elaborate measured drawings, hypothetical reconstructions, and studies on polychromy and sculptural ornaments. In 1848-53 M. Beulé directed the excavations in front of the Propylaea and restored the so-called Beulé-gate (Beulé, 1862).

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