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Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Modern Era

1789 - 1914

In Europe, the revolutionary transformation of the ruling systems and state structures began with a bang: In 1789 the French Revolution broke out in Paris, and its motto "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite"—Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood—took on an irrepressible force. A fundamental reorganization of society followed the French Revolution. The ideas behind the revolution were manifest in Napoleon's Code Civil, which he imposed on many European nations. The 19th century also experienced a transformation of society from another source: The Industrial Revolution established within society a poorer working class that stood in opposition to the merchant and trading middle class. The nascent United States was shaken by an embittered civil war. The economic growth that set in following that war was accompanied by the development of imperialist endeavors and its rise to the status of a Great Power.



Liberty Leading the People,
allegory of the 1830 July revolution that deposed the French monarchy,
with Marianne as the personification of liberty,
contemporary painting by Eugene Delacroix.



The Balkans



Until the middle of the 19th century, the Balkans were almost completely in the hands of the Ottoman Empire, but it was in a process of decline, and by the outbreak of World War I in Europe its control had shriveled to a narrow strip of land. The Greeks were the first to rebel against the Turks in their war of independence in the 1820s. They were followed by other nationalities, who were supported by Russia, which saw itself as the patron of the Slavic nationalist movement. But the Balkan countries also fought among themselves over territory, which created an explosive political situation that was partly responsible for the start of World War I.


Liberty in Greece

Greece's successful war of independence made it the first country on the Balkan Peninsula to free itself from Ottoman rule.


Patriotic nationalism in Greece increased at the end of the 18th century and led the Greeks to liberate themselves from Ottoman control.

Though the rebellion of 1 Alexander Ypsilantis, the leader of the Hetairia Philikon secret society, failed in 1821, the Peloponnesus region also rose up, led by Bishop Germanos of Patras.

1 Ypsilantis

Europe suppor ed the Greeks: money and, above all, volunteer fighters such as 2 Lord GEORGE BYRON, came to Greece to join the fight for independence.

2 Lord Byron in Arnaout (an inhabitant of Albania)
dress painted by Thomas Phillips in 1813

see also:


Lord Byron on his deathbed as depicted by Joseph-Denis Odevaere, 1826

Many of these were romantics, motivated by the idea of liberating a country descended from Ancient Greece.

The long struggle was accompanied on both sides by 3 massacres of the civilian population.

3 The Massacre of Chios, retaliatory strike of the Ottomans in April 1822,
painting by
Eugene Delacroix, 1824

see also:


The Peloponnesus was almost completely retaken by the Turks, but the sultan, Mahmud II, had to iskthe Egyptian viceroy, Muhammad Ali, for help. The Egyptians reconquered the southern Peloponnesus in 1826. Russia, Great Britain, and France then sent a fleet to Greece that annihilated the Turkish fleet at Navarino in 1827. Russia was also victorious in the Russo-Turkish war in 1829, and Greece—which at first consisted mainly of the Peloponnesus—was granted the status of an independent kingdom at the London Conference on February 3, 1830.

The first king of the Hellenes was Otto of Bavaria, who was crowned in 1832. With little success, he struggled with internal uprisings that led to his abdication in 1862.

His successor in 1863 was Prince William George of Denmark as 4 George I, who ruled for 50 years before he was assassinated in 1913 in Salonika.

Over time, the Greeks were able to significantly expand their territory through wars against the disintegrating Ottoman Empire and in the Balkan Wars of 1912-13.

4 George I, King of Greece

George I
king of Greece
original name Prince William of Denmark, Danish Prins Vilhelm af Danmark

born Dec. 24, 1845, Copenhagen, Den.
died March 18, 1913, Thessaloníki, Greece

King of Greece, whose long reign (1863–1913) spanned the formative period for the development of Greece as a modern European state. His descendants occupied the throne until the military coup d’état of 1967 and eventual restoration of the republic in 1973.

Born Prince William, the second son of King Christian IX of Denmark and the brother of Queen Alexandra of England, he was nominated to the Greek throne by Britain, France, and Russia after the first Greek king, Otto, was deposed in 1862. The National Assembly accepted William as king of the Hellenes in March 1863, and he ascended the throne as George (Georgios) I on October 31. Although the early years of his reign were dominated by his harsh and unpopular adviser Count Sponneck, who was obliged to return to Denmark in 1877, he refrained from transgressing the prerogatives of the National Assembly and became one of the most successful constitutional monarchs in Europe.

Encyclopaedia Britannica




Count loannis Antonios Kapodistrias

Count loannis Antonios Kapodistrias was foreign minister of Russia and a negotiator for Tsar Alexander I at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. He quit the Russian service when a dispute developed between him and the tsar over the fate of Greece.

Kapodistrias then participated in the Greek war of independence and was elected president of an independent Greece in 1827.

He was assassinated on October 9, 1831, in Nauplia.

loannis Antonios Kapodistrias


Ioánnis Antónios, Count Kapodístrias

Greek statesman
Italian Conte Giovanni Antonio Capo D’istria
(Komis: )
born Feb. 11, 1776, Corfu [Greece]
died Oct. 9, 1831, Návplion, Greece

Greek statesman who was prominent in the Russian foreign service during the reign of Alexander I (reigned 1801–25) and in the Greek struggle for independence.

The son of Count Antonio Capo d’Istria, he was born in Corfu (at that time under Venetian rule), studied at Padua, and then entered government service. In 1799 Russia and Turkey drove the French from the Ionian Islands and organized them into the Septinsular Republic. Kapodístrias participated in writing the new state’s second constitution (adopted 1803) and became its secretary of state (1803). France regained control of the islands (1807), however, and Kapodístrias entered the Russian foreign service (1809). He became an expert on Balkan affairs, which earned him a post with the commander of Russia’s armed forces on the lower Danube River (1812). After the army marched north to oppose Napoleon’s invasion of Russia (1812), Kapodístrias was assigned as a diplomat to the army staff (1813) and later was sent by Alexander I on a special mission to Switzerland (1814).

After attending the postwar Congress of Vienna as one of Russia’s representatives (1814–15), Kapodístrias became a highly influential adviser of the emperor; and, after January 1816, he was given equal responsibility with Karl Robert Nesselrode, the director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for the conduct of Russia’s foreign policy.

Kapodístrias, however, expressed doubts about Alexander’s Holy Alliance with Austria and Prussia and objected to Russia’s approval of Austria’s suppression of the revolts in Naples and Piedmont (1820–21). Consequently, he earned the political enmity of Austria’s chancellor Metternich, who used his increasing influence over Alexander to undermine Kapodístrias’ position. When Alexander refused to support the Greek revolt against Turkey (begun March 1821), Kapodístrias, who had a deep sympathy for the cause of Greek independence, although he had earlier refused to lead the major Greek revolutionary organization, found himself in an intolerable position. In 1822, therefore, he took an extended leave of absence from the Russian service and settled in Geneva, where he devoted himself to supplying material and moral relief to the Greek rebels until April 1827, when he was elected provisional president of Greece.

Resigning from the Russian service, he then toured Europe seeking financial and diplomatic support for the War of Greek Independence and arrived at Návplion (Nauplia), Greece’s capital, in January 1828. He subsequently directed his energies toward negotiating with Great Britain, France, and Russia (which had all joined the war against the Turks) over the settlement of Greece’s frontiers and the selection of its new monarch. He became leader of a party with pro-Russian sympathies. He also worked to organize an effective government apparatus and to subordinate powerful, semiautonomous local leaders to the authority of the new state. In the process, however, he acquired many enemies, two of whom, Konstantinos and Georgios Mavromikhalis of Maina, assassinated Kapodístrias as he entered a church.

Encyclopaedia Britannica


Hellas with her "children" Kapodistnas, Ypsilatni,
Lord Byron and the bishop Germanos and others,
painting by Theodoras Vryzakis


Lord Byron at the Siege of Messolonghi,
painting by Theodoras Vryzakis (1825)


Bishop Germanos of Patras blesses the flag of an independent Greece,
painting by Theodoras Vryzakis


The sortie of Messologhi,
painting by Theodoras Vryzakis


The campus of Georgios Karaiskakis,
painting by Theodoras Vryzakis



The Balkan Powder Keg

The Balkan nations were able to liberate themselves and gain independence from the Ottoman Empire but fought among themselves over land.


Bulgaria, Romania—created in 1861 out of the unification of Walachia and Moldavia—Montenegro, and Serbia became autonomous under the Treaty of San Stefano following the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. Bulgaria became a principality obligated to pay tribute to the sultan.

Serbia had dreams of a greater Serbian Empire, however, and in 1885 9 King Milan I Obrenovic waged a war against Bulgaria over Macedonia; Austria-Hungary made sure that Serbia gained only a small western region.

Prince Alexander I of Bulgaria lost his throne in a coup to 10 Ferdinand I of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who made himself tsar of Bulgaria in 1908 and proclaimed the country independent.

9 King Milan I Obrenovic
10 Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Bosnia and Herzegovina were occupied in the same year by Austria-Hungary, creating an 11 annexation crisis that almost led to war with Serbia, which saw its dreams of a great Serbian Empire as destroyed.

11 Analogy of the Annexation Crisis:
The peal bell can not ring because each
nation pulls it in a different direction

Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, and Bulgaria formed the Balkan League and declared war on the Ottoman Empire in October 1912 and in short order captured almost all of its European territories and reduced it to its present territories. The Treaty of London on May 30,1913, left the Turks with only a small piece of territory in Europe, but did not resolve the problem of control over Macedonia, contested between Bulgaria and Serbia.

Consequently, Serbia and Greece began the 8 Second Balkan War against Bulgaria on June 29,1913.

8 The inhabitants of Melknik buir thoir
city before they flee

By July, Romania, the Ottoman Empire, and Montenegro had joined in against Bulgaria. The Treaty of Bucharest of August 10,1913, stated that Bulgaria was to cede territory to Romania; Macedonia was absorbed for the most part by Serbia and Romania; and Albania became independent.

Unfortunately, that still did not eliminate the tension in the Balkans. Serbia had become significantly stronger, which the multinational state of Austria-Hungary, with its strong and vocal slavic population, regarded with distrust.

When the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was 12 shot on June 28,1914, in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist, it led to the July Crisis during which Serbia was unable to fulfil an Austro-Hungarian ultimatum and Vienna declared war on Serbia.

This escalated when the other European nations intervened and it ultimately led to World War I.

12 Assasination of the Austro-Hungarian
heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand,
by Gavrilo Princip

Francis Ferdinand, archduke of Austria-Este

Austrian archduke
German Franz Ferdinand, Erzherzog von Österreich-Este
born Dec. 18, 1863, Graz, Austria
died June 28, 1914, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Austrian archduke whose assassination was the immediate cause of World War I.

Francis Ferdinand was the eldest son of the archduke Charles Louis, who was the brother of the emperor Francis Joseph. The death of the heir apparent, the archduke Rudolf, in 1889, made Francis Ferdinand next in succession to the Austro-Hungarian throne after his father, who died in 1896. But because of Francis Ferdinand’s ill health in the 1890s, his younger brother Otto was regarded as more likely to succeed, a possibility that deeply embittered Francis Ferdinand. His desire to marry Sophie, countess von Chotek, a lady-in-waiting, brought him into sharp conflict with the emperor and the court. Only after renouncing his future children’s rights to the throne was the morganatic marriage allowed in 1900.

In foreign affairs he tried, without endangering the alliance with Germany, to restore Austro-Russian understanding. At home he thought of political reforms that would have strengthened the position of the crown and weakened that of the Magyars against the other nationalities in Hungary. His plans were based on the realization that any nationalistic policy pursued by one section of the population would endanger the multinational Habsburg empire. His relationship with Francis Joseph was exacerbated by his continuous pressure on the emperor, who in his later years left affairs to take care of themselves but sharply resented any interference with his prerogative. From 1906 onward Francis Ferdinand’s influence in military matters grew, and in 1913 he became inspector general of the army.

In June 1914 he and his wife were assassinated by the Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip at Sarajevo; a month later World War I began with Austria’s declaration of war against Serbia.

Encyclopaedia Britannica



The Congress of Berlin

From June 13 to July 13,1878, the Great Powers—Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, France, Italy, Russia, and the German and Ottoman empires—sat down together in an attempt to defuse the Balkan situation.

The other powers were particularly interested in halting Russia's advance on the Black Sea in the direction of the Dardanelles, which would put it in a position of dominance.

Among other things, the north of Bulgaria was declared independent and Eastern Rumelia in the south was made an autonomous province.

The Congress of Berlin, painting by Anton von Werner, 1881




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