Katerina Tsatoucha 2005

Department of Architecture, Municipality of Athens, Greece

Characteristics and patterns of classicism in the funerary art of Greece

The funerary art depicts the social conditions, as well as, the influences of current architectural and sculptural trends. Local tradition can be traced also in the aesthetics of this art. The case of cemeteries in Greece, over the 19th century, mainly the First Cemetery of Athens and the Cemetery of Syros reflects all these aspects. It is worth noticing that particularly the cemetery of Athens is associated with the rebirth of the New Greek State after four centuries of cultural silence. The New Greek funerary art that appeared and developed during 1850-1920 can be described as a creative time of reform and adhesion to ancient patterns. It could be argued that the following factors contributed to this: the excavations in ancient Kerameikos and the interesting finds of stelae which influenced and strengthened the patterns of the funerary art   of the  last decades of 19th century; the architectural culture in the city of Athens, as the modern capital of the New Greek State under the monarch of Otto, was the neoclassicism that had references to classical spirit; and the sculptural art of anonymous marble sculptors that was alive through centuries  in the islands -mainly in Cyclades – was inspired by these patterns. For the above reasons, the tendencies which dominated the sculptural works of the 19th century, including these of the most famous Greek sculptors educated in Europe, were tied to classical origins. There was a lavish production of stelae, temples, symbols, and details of decoration that have many similarities to Ancient Greek prototypes. The above characteristics were the most important factors that make the cemeteries of Greece and most of all the historical First Cemetery of Athens to present its own unique features that stand out from the rest of the Cemeteries in Europe of the same period.


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