Greek Fugitives

  • About the work
    Country: Greece
    City: Athens
    Place: British Embassy

    This engraving by Joseph Goodyear was made after an earlier oil painting by Charles Lock Eastlake, titled ‘Greek fugitives in the aftermath of the tragic destruction of Chios on 1 September, 1822’ (Benaki Museum, Athens). The painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, in 1833. The island of Chios is situated five miles off the western coast of Turkey, in the Aegean Sea. This historical scene depicts a group of bereft and exhausted islanders, anxiously seeking refuge from Turkish invaders, during the Greek War of Independence.

    In the foreground a group, predominantly of women and children, seek shade under a tree on a rocky outcrop. A young boy collapses with exhaustion on his mother’s lap, while another woman nurses her baby. At the far right of the scene, an elderly man sits dejectedly, his hands clasped on his knees and a staff fallen beside him on the ground. At the feet of the group other personal items such as jewellery, pipes and clothing lie randomly, as if discarded by those who have fled before them. A standing man looks towards turbaned raiders on horseback, on a distant path. Behind the raiders, smoke billows from blazing homes.

  • About the artist
    Sir Charles Lock Eastlake was born in Plymouth; the son of a judge-advocate and solicitor to the Admiralty. He studied under Samuel Prout before entering the Royal Academy (RA) Schools. He sketched Napoleon as a prisoner at Plymouth Sound and sold a resulting portrait sold for 1000 guineas. He then lived in Rome for 14 years. In 1830 he became a member of the RA and returned to London. In 1841 he was appointed Secretary of the Fine Arts Commission for the interior decoration of the Palace of Westminster. He was also Keeper of the National Gallery (1843-47). He married writer Elizabeth Rigby in 1849 and was elected President of the RA the following year. At 62 he was appointed first Director of the National Gallery. He died in Pisa, aged 72.

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  • Details
    Greek Fugitives
    published 1 April 1846
    Origin uncertain
    GAC number