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Greece - Expo Paris 1878

Missing picture


We, along with many others, are unable to say what Greek painting might have been like in the time of Apelles, not to go back to Zeuxis and Parrhasius, and even less to Bularca, but we cannot fail to recognise that modern Greek painting, as represented in the Fine Arts Gallery, suffers from little more than sheer numbers.

Greece occupies only one wall of the only room occupied by Portugal; this wall is a little more completely covered, not much; but what a difference!

The whole of Mr. Lydras' exhibition is worth seeing; it consists of national scenes of real charm: the Kiss, the Canary Burner, New Year's Eve, the Kidnapped Girl, Orphan Girl, a young girl half undressed, so that she can mend her miserable clothes, the Kitchen, a genre painting of very good execution and happy inspiration. We will then mention the Engagement in Greece, between six-year-old children, by Mr. Gy-zis; some of the paintings by Mr. Pericles Pantazis, who touches on all genres: genre, marine and landscape; Y Fire of the first Ottoman frigate at Erissos by Papanicoli, by Mr. Altamura; a beautiful Study 'The first Ottoman frigate at Erissos by Papanicoli, by Mr. Altamura; a beautiful Study 'The first Ottoman frigate at Erissos by Papanicoli, by Mr. Altamura; a beautiful Study 'The first Ottoman frigate at Erissos by Papanicoli, by Mr. Altamura. Altamura; a beautiful Study of a reclining woman, by M. Bizo; and finally the charming paintings by M. Ralli: Slave playing the guitar, Nur-mahal the Dancer, After the funeral, Souvenir of Megara and especially his Soubrette Louis XIV watering flowers.

The sculpture offers us some remarkable pieces, notably the portraits of M. Kossos, but nothing in sum that deserves to be particularly mentioned.


We are pleased to speak of this beautiful country of Greece, which invented all the arts and sciences, which had all the glories and misfortunes, and which was finally the highest and most brilliant personality among the ancient nations.

This personality was so powerfully radiant, it is so undeniable that the Athens of old still dominates us; ancient Rome still dominates us, too, but to a lesser degree, and this is understandable, since the artistic and scientific revelation came to it from the Greeks.

As happens to all nations that their merit or sometimes - and there is evidence of this in history - simple chance, have raised them to the last degree of preponderance among peoples, Greece, when the hour of her fall came, crashed when she fell because she fell from too high.

Called upon by her geographical situation to be in constant turmoil, she found herself prey to all the barbarians who rushed to the West; she lived without living, she had no time to breathe.
When calmer times finally returned, when she was able to look at herself and question herself, Greece realised that she was no longer herself and that a new society, with other institutions, other tastes and other customs, was functioning around her.

She had to begin the work of assimilation and give up all that she had left of the Greece of old in order to be accepted and to hold her own in the European concert.

The part she took in the Exhibition of 1878, and the baggage she brought with her, give the measure of the progress made by this interesting little country, which today has no more than fifteen hundred thousand inhabitants.

The dominant profession in Greece at present is that of farmer, with industrialists coming second; for example, the number of men in the liberal professions is excessively considerable, considering the small size of the population.

This is a sign that the blood of the ancient Greeks is still flowing in the veins of the modern Greeks.

The reader will not be surprised, therefore, at the great number of schools of all kinds which abound in Greece, and at the large proportion given to teaching and study of all kinds.


As soon as a semblance of a lull occurred, Greece took advantage of it to raise its schools. This revival was not long in coming. The year 1829 saw only mutual primary schools as an innovation; but it saw the creation, in Aegina, of a central school containing 500 pupils, and an orphanage which fed 100 orphans of those who had died for the fatherland.

From then on, education followed an increasing progression, which we will quickly establish.

By 1833, in addition to a military school in Poros, there were 71 communal schools in Greece with 6,700 pupils and 39 Hellenic schools with 3,000 pupils.

A gymnasium with a Greek school was then founded, followed by a military school in Aegina.

In 1835, the following were founded: a theoretical and practical establishment for surgery, pharmacy and childbirth, two gymnasiums with Greek schools, in Athens and Hermopolis, and ten Greek schools for which the municipalities claimed responsibility.

In 1836, the Greek Society for the Education of Girls was founded.

Finally, in 1837, a national university was established.

Education, at all levels, was finally reborn in Greece, and the Greeks, who had taught the whole world everything for thousands of years, were finally going to learn in their turn.

As primary and middle school education had been provided, the demands of practical and artistic education were also met.

Thus a school of agriculture was founded in Tyre and a school of arts in Athens. Wasn't this returning the arts to their cradle?

In Nafplio, a naval school was founded in 1837; then, in 1867, five naval schools were established in Hydra, Spetza, Galaxidi and Argosteli.

As early as 1856, commerce was being taught in Syra and Patras.

As we can see, the gods of ancient Greece, the ones we learned to worship when we were at school and marvelled at the splendours of Homer, are still alive. Apollo, Mars and Mercury still have their altars, only they have been modernised. Mars does his one-year voluntary service, Apollo is a professor of rhetoric, and Mercury is a sea captain.

Well, would one believe it, Greece, which shows such great elevation of ideas by the passion with which it pursues the development of public education, Greece which has not been able to die, although it has suffered misfortunes which would have wiped out any other nation for ever, Greece which now follows us in the path of progress, while waiting for it to perhaps get ahead of us, Greece still has only one railway which connects Athens to Piraeus.

And the route of this railway is ten kilometres long!


We felt that international legislation deserved a mention. We have borrowed the information we are about to read from the excellent work by Mr. Charles Fiiniaux, lawyer at the Conseil d'Ëtat: La Propriété industrielle et la propriété artistique et littéraire en France et à l'étranger :
Legislation. - The Penal Code of 30 December 1833 (art. 432 and 433) contains general provisions without distinguishing industrial property from literary and artistic property.

Duration of the right. - The author of works reproduced in print does not have a right to his work for his entire life; the duration of the right is only fifteen years from the first publication. But the sovereign may grant a more extensive privilege.

Scientific or artistic discoveries, works or productions are subject to the privilege regime.

Infringement. - During the fifteen years, or during the term of the privilege, the injured party may have the infringing copies seized and prosecute the infringers.

Penalties. - The fine is from 200 to 2,000 drachmas (180 to 1,800 fr.) where it has not been fixed by the privilege without prejudice to damages.

International law. - The foreigner, even if he has no special privilege, is protected for fifteen years, if the Greeks are protected in the country to which he belongs; this has existed in France for literary and artistic property since the decree of 28 March 1852.


After these general considerations, we will quickly enter into the examination of the Greek exhibition.

We shall pass, without stopping there, before the bookshop and printing classes; we shall, however, mention the house of Coromilas, an excellent printing house which almost single-handedly supplies the Orient with its teaching books, and then the catalogue of periodicals and books published in Greece from 1867 to 1877; attractive reading for those interested in the progress of peoples.

Stationery and music offer nothing of note.

Let us come to furniture and its accessories; Greece, once so refined, seems to us to sacrifice little to luxury; it is an industry which needs to be revived.

Ceramics has developed more, but it does not seem to have any great artistic pretensions; the objects exhibited are hardly used for anything but the household.

On the other hand, the carpet industry is very flourishing and its specimens are magnificent; the Orient could envy such products.

The spinning industry is one of the industries which has developed most in Greece in recent years; this is fortunate, especially if we consider the large number of workers whose existence is thus assured. Piraeus alone has nearly thirty steam-spinning factories.

The classes of cottons, yarns, wools and silks are the most and best represented at the Exhibition.

In the clothing class, life-size mannequins were adorned with the richest national costumes.

This is always an interesting and at the same time highly instructive spectacle; no description can give the visitor a better understanding of the type, genre and richness of the costumes.

We would have liked each of the distant countries to exhibit similar specimens of the costumes of the various classes at the Exhibition; this would have constituted a real museum, something like the history of costume in relief.


Greece possesses mines of lead, iron, etc., but the great wealth, the true jewel in her crown, is marble.

What marble in the world can rival the white marbles of Paros, Tenos, Naxos and Erinia, the black marbles of Lacedemonia, the granite of Navossa?


The olive tree flourishes in Greece; everyone knows that the olive tree, of which Minerva holds a branch in her hand, is the national tree of the ancient land of the gods.

After the olive, the most abundant product is wheat, with its various derivatives.

Next we find the famous honey of Mount Hymette; and finally the wines: - wines of Athens, Phaleres, Oedipsos, Myrtountron, Calavryta, Chalcis, Di-dynia, Oudros, Thira, Hopitaides, Lefkada, Ithaca, home of the wise Odysseus, Nemea, where Hercules killed his lion, Argos, Megara, Milo, etc., etc.

These wines, very aromatic, are almost entirely consumed in the East.


From the point of view of war, Greece sent nothing to the Exhibition of 1878; the weapons exhibited, six small objects, are of value only from the point of view of art and luxury. We will therefore limit ourselves, for the information of the reader, to the following details:
The army comprises 14,061 men, of whom 749 are commissioned officers and 2,422 are uncommissioned.

The navy comprises thirteen vessels, namely: two small battleships, the King George and the Queen Olga, six propeller vessels, three schooners, two cutters and the Amphitrite, the king's yacht.

The sea army consisted of 581 men and 71 officers.

In addition, here is what we find on military education in the excellent book by Mr. Mansolas, the general commissioner for Greece at the Exhibition:
Naval Schools. - With the aim of encouraging and instructing those who are destined to become sailors, a chair of theoretical instruction in the naval art was annexed to the Greek schools of Syra and Nafplio in 1837, for the special instruction of sailors. - Since 1867, five naval schools have been opened in each of the five main maritime cities: Hermopolis, Hydra, Spetza, Galaxidi and Argostoli. Each of these schools has two classes and a teacher. The number of pupils taught in these five schools is about 90. The instruction given there is completed after six months, and the students who have passed the examinations receive a diploma of captain of commerce.

Military school. - This school, founded in 1828 in Aegina, was specially organised in 1835 and transferred to Piraeus. According to the present organization, the teaching is divided into seven classes, with 16 teachers and 6 masters. The total number of students is limited by its organization to 40. - The subjects taught are Religion, Greek Language, Mathematics, Descriptive Geometry, Physics, Oryc-tology and Geology, Chemistry, Theoretical Mechanics and Agronomy, Topography, Geodesy, Roads, Art of War, Military Technology, Artillery, Architecture, Construction, Bridges, Applied Mechanics and Engineering, Fortification, Logic, French Language, Drawing, Calligraphy, Music, Fencing, Gymnastics.

The direction of the school is entrusted to a senior army officer. The State spends 193,000 drachmas annually on this school.

In addition to the special military instruction of this establishment, there are also particular schools attached to military corps, under the name of army schools, and for which 10,000 drachmas are still spent annually. Provision is also made for the maintenance of scholarship holders abroad.

The total sum of expenditure on military education amounts to 222,520 drachmas.

©Les Merveilles de l'Exposition de 1878