2021 Leventis Exhibition

A major exhibition accompanies the tenure of the 12th Leventis Professor: 'Edina/Athena: The Greek Revolution and the Athens of the North, 1821–2021' and will be on display from 29 October 2021 until 29 January 2022.

HCA Edina Athena exhitibiton banner showing landscape paintings of old Edinburgh and Athens

With generous support from the A. G. Leventis Foundation and as part of Protovoulia 1821–2021 (‘Initiative 1821–2021’), the School of History, Classics and Archaeology in connection with the Centre for Research Collections is delighted to host an exhibition to mark the bicentenary of the Greek Revolution of 1821 in 2021. This display explores Scottish–Greek connections in the early nineteenth century and plays on the synchronicity of the Greek Revolution and the emergence of the discourse of Edinburgh as the ‘Modern Athens’ and ‘Athens of the North’.

HCA Leventis logo

The exhibition first highlights the topographical and architectural features of Athens and Edinburgh that allowed early nineteenth-century observers to promote direct comparisons between the two cities. This is illustrated by the paintings of Hugh William Williams, James Skene and Thomas Hosmer Shepherd. Its focal point juxtaposes the plans of Charles Robert Cockerell and William Henry Playfair for a complete replica of the Parthenon on Edinburgh’s ‘acropolis’ of Calton Hill with Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s grand vision of a royal palace on Athens’ Acropolis – neither of which was realized.

HCA protovoulia logo

The exhibition’s second theme concerns Scottish participation in the Greek Revolution, focusing on the four most important Scottish philhellenes: Thomas Gordon of Cairness, Lord Byron, Edward Masson, and George Finlay. These figures are mirrored by Greek perspectives structured around Panagiotis Zographos’ illustrations of key events in the Revolution, as well as introductions to major figures such as Theodoros Kolokotronis, Petros Mavromichalis, Laskarina Bouboulina and Ioannis Kapodistrias.

These themes are then drawn together in a consideration of the classical education that promoted philhellenism in Scotland. This focuses on Edinburgh’s own Hellenists, most famously John Stuart Blackie, who taught Greek as a living language at the University in the mid-nineteenth century, and on the teaching of Greek art and architecture through works such as Stuart’s and Revett’s seminal Antiquities of Athens.

The exhibition will open on 29 October 2021 for a period of three months, hosted in the exhibition gallery in the University’s Main Library on George Square.

Further information to follow.