“Prossalendi’s Britannia” – Historical Perspective - Exhibition at the Ionian Academy

CORFU. As it is well known, George IV, as Prince Regent of the United Kingdom, founded the Order of St Michael and St George in Corfu and in Malta on 28 April 1818, two hundred years ago. This forms part of Corfu’s history and belongs to its heritage.

July / 2018

Three portraits of the first British High Commissioners of the Ionian Islands were created by Corfiot sculptor Paolo Prossalendi (1784-1837) and are kept in the Palace of St Michael and St George in Corfu. In addition, his Britannia sculptural ensemble crowned the façade of the Palace in the period 1823-1864. On 2 June 1864, right at the beginning of the Ionian Islands’ union with Greece, there is evidence that this sculpture was boarded on a ship to Malta, and its unknown whereabouts likely suggests that is was destroyed in Malta’s bombing in the Second World War. Therefore, the title of the exhibition “Prossalendi’s Britannia” has been carefully chosen to refer to both the Greek sculptor and the British source of his inspiration. Particular weight is given to the personification of Britannia, a Romano-Celtic goddess usually depicted with helmet, shield and trident, like Athena Pallas. The figure appeared in the Roman coins and revived with the name “Britannia” in the farthing coin that Charles II began to release in 1672. The relation of Athena Pallas and the Hypermachos Strategos Theotokos (Virgin Defending General) to Britannia, as feminine goddesses turning masculine in defence of their core values, is the focus of the exhibition. The basic proposition is that Prossalendi’s relief for the base of the Bust of George IV, by the English sculptor Sir Francis Chantrey, gives the desired answer that obviously links Athena with Britannia.

The “Prossalendi’s Britannia” exhibition is organised in two separate perspectives – the Historical and the Contemporary. The Historical Perspective is curated by Megakles Rogakos and includes the following works: (1) the portrait of The Knight Paolo Prossalendi, Painter and Statue Maker, by Spagnoli after Calosguro, of the Corfu Reading Society; (2) Prossalendi’s plaster Study for the Bust of Nugent of the Corfu Reading Society; (3) Prossalendi’s bronze Bust of Nugent of the Palace of SMSG; (4) Calosguro’s marble Bust of Frederick Guilford, of the National Historical Museum, Athens. In addition the exhibition includes (5) Joseph Schranz᾽s The Palace of St Michael and St George, Corfu, from the British Embassy, Athens; and (6) Joseph Cartwright’s watercolour of The Esplanade of Corfu, from Spiro Flamburiari Collection; and (7) Dr Johnson Savage’s The Maitland Monument on the Esplanade, Corfu Town, from the Corfu Reading Society. Other works included are works from a Private Collection, London - (8) Album of Augusto Colla, opened at the relevant page with the aspect of the Palace around 1860; (9) an anonymous view of the Palace of St Michael and St George after Joseph Schranz; (10) a view of the Esplanade by James Horsbrugh. The display also includes (11-12) the two pages concerning Prossalendi in the Gazzetta degli Stati Uniti delle Isole Jonie – #214, 21 January 1822, relating to the making and placement of Britannia on the Palace; and #444, 19 June - 1 July 1826, relating to Sir Thomas Lawrence’s praise for the exhibition at Lansdowne House, London, including Prossalendi’s works. This historic exhibition is complimented by the permanent display in the Palace of works by Prossalendi - (13) the Bust of Maitland and its Base; (14) the Bust of Adam and its Base; and (15) the Base for Chantrey’s Bust of George IV. The display includes (16) the insignia of the Order of St Michael & St George awarded to Sir Efthimios E. Mitropoulos KCMG. The Historical Perspective will be presented at the Ionian Academy, Corfu, in 7 – 29 July 2018.

Accompanying Catalogue: A fully-illustrated 130-page catalogue, including an essay by Dr Rogakos that covers all aspects of “Prossalendi’s Britannia” – Historical Perspective, is published by the Corfu Heritage Foundation (ISBN: 978-618-83770-0-4).

   Public Information

Duration: 7 – 29 July 2018

Venue: Ionian Academy, 1 Kapodistriou & Akadimias Street, 49100 Corfu, Greece


Opening Hours: 8.30am – 9pm daily, except Sunday

Communication: Mrs Dionysia Karvouni, 26610 87129
/ int_rel@ionio.gr

Visuals: www.corfuheritagefoundation.org/prossalendis-britannia-historic/


Megakles Rogakos (b. 1972) holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art History from The American College of Greece, Athens (1997); a Master’s degree in Arts Policy & Management from the City University, London (1998); another Master’s degree in Art History and Theory from Goldsmiths College, London (1999); and a PhD in Philosophy and History of Art at the University of Essex, Colchester (2017). In 2000-2004 he worked as an information officer at the Tate Gallery, conducted scholarly research and curated a series of multimedia exhibitions, in London and abroad, featuring international contemporary artists. In 2004-2012 he held an appointment as ACG Art Curator at the American College of Greece. Since 2012, he works as an independent curator. He also publishes reviews of exceptional art exhibitions mainly at www.elculture.gr, but also at www.visuelimage.com.