The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Early Photographs of Greece 1850-1900

  • Torben Melander,, 2003
  • This is a re-publication of the article:

    Torben Melander: ‘Early photographs of Greece 1850-1900’, in: Meddelelser fra Thorvaldsens Museum (Communications from the Thorvaldsens Museum) p. 2003, p. 148-166.

    For a presentation of the article in its original appearance in Danish, please see this facsimile scan.


Thorvaldsens Museum put on an exhibition entitled Greece in Early Photographs, 1850-1900 lasting from 19 February to 18 May. The exhibition was arranged at the suggestion of the Greek Ambassador to Denmark to mark the Greek presidency of the EU during the first half of 2003. From the Museum’s point of view, such an exhibition also related well to one held many years ago under the title of The Photographers’ Rome. The Age of Pius IX.

Together with the academic staff of the Benaki Museum at Athens (Department of Photographic Archives and Department of Paintings, Prints and Drawings), a selection was made of photographs and prints from the Benaki Museum collections.

This collection of photographs was then supplemented with others from two sources in Copenhagen: from the Collection of Photographs in the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Library and from the Royal Library Department of Maps, Prints and Photos. A small selection of the photographs shown in the exhibition is reproduced in the present publication. These are accompanied by an article by Dr Fani-Maria Tsigakou, Curator in the Department of Paintings, Prints and Drawings in the Benaki Museum, Athens. On the one hand, the article is concerned with the emergence of early photography and the consequences it had for the rest of the art world. And on the other it deals with the conditions met by photography and photographers in particular in Athens, including the relationship between these early photographic motifs and the way in which the same motifs are treated in other artistic media, both those of earlier times as well as contemporary ones.

Last updated 11.05.2017