The Palace of St Michael and St George, Corfu

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

    In 1815 army officer and colonial official Sir Thomas Maitland (1760-1824) became Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands and Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, heralding the start of the British protectorate of the Ionian Islands until 1864. He built the neo-classical Palace of St Michael and St George in Corfu Town as the headquarters for the Order of St Michael and St George, which he established, and also as a residence for the High Commissioner. In 1818 the new chivalric Order of St Michael and St George was proposed and created by Maitland, to honour services to the Crown by Ionian and Maltese citizens, resident British military men and administrators.

    Schranz’s depiction of Maitland’s Palace of St Michael and St George is distinguished by the imposing architecture of the grand stone-clad building. On the Palace roof a sculptural figure is seen within an ancient ship (the symbol of Corfu). This figure represented Great Britain as a woman, with a recumbent lion at her feet. In 1864 the sculptures were removed and today only the prow of the ship is visible.

  • About the artist
    Josef Schranz was born in Port Máhon, Minorca, to an artistic family who later settled in Malta. He was one of three artist sons of painter Anton Schranz. Little is known of his training, although he was probably taught by his father and may also have studied in Italy. Conversant in four languages, including Arabic, Schranz was well-travelled. However in c.1832 he settled permanently in Constantinople. His preferred techniques were watercolour and lithography and he is particularly associated with topographical panoramas and marine painting. Like his father and brother, he painted for a mainly English clientele, who were drawn to Greek revival styles and Greek subjects. Other works by Schranz are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
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  • Details
    The Palace of St Michael and St George, Corfu
    Oil on canvas
    height: 58.50 cm, width: 95.00 cm
    Purchased from Agnew's, June 1960
    Constantinidi collection; with Agnew’s Gallery, London; from whom purchased in June 1960
    GAC number