Whilst #NationalPetDay is dominating Twitter trends, I was reminded of one of the most charming photographs to feature in the ‘Metamorphoses of Athens’ exhibition last summer at Herakleidon Museum in Theseio.
In the Athenian portraits part of the exhibition the most delightful photograph of an officer with his two dogs caught my eye. Taken by Petros Moraites in 1865, it depicts a very nonchalant, yet unknown sitter, cigarette in hand, looking with an arresting gaze straight down the photographer’s lens. On the floor by his feet, two sleepy companions complete the composition making this an informal, immediate and enchanting glimpse to a 19th century life.
The photograph belongs to the Harris Yiakoumis Collection and also features in the Πρόσωπα των Αθηνών publication and DVD found here in Greek and French.
The exhibition itself was one this blogger highly anticipated to visit. Although the subject matter was clearly the Athenian landscape, it was wonderful to also see numerous portraits of the inhabitants of the city.
Some of the highlights for me where the 1842 daguerreotype of Philopapou, Moraites’ own large format camera and the calf bearer being excavated. What a fantastic image.
The new Herakleidon Museum is a comfortable, warm and welcoming exhibition space that worked in harmony with this display. It offered the visitor an intimate view of each photograph, within a beautifully restored building, (almost) in keeping with the period represented. Photographic collections require great care in mounting, framing and exposure to light and this exhibition was testament to how a fine balance can be met so that the visitor can enjoy the original photographs, with all the physical marks, scratches, worn edges, fading – the evidence of use and the passing of time.
The text informed the viewer of the subject and photographer but also of the photographic process used. I found this attention to the materiality of each photograph to be of the essence when displaying original material, such as this.
The two catalogues published are heavily illustrated and extremely informative, highlighting the range and beauty of the Yiakoumis collection.