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November 1999

Otto mobile

Greece's influence in Bavarian art

It’s fitting that blue and white should be the national colors of both Greece and Bavaria. The two states share a 19th-century history of which many are not aware. When Greece gained independence from Turkey in 1822, the rulers of Europe rejoiced in what was seen as a great victory for European civilization. Because Ludwig I of Bavaria had admired ancient Greece all his life and dreamed of making Munich a modern-day Athens, he was certainly delighted when his son, Otto, prince of Bavaria, became king of Greece in 1832 at the age of 17. Otto, chosen as king by European powers, was very unpopular with the Greek people. He reigned in Greece for 30 years until 1862, when he was forced to abdicate. Despite this turbulent end to Bavaria’s rule in Greece, those three decades saw close ties established between the two kingdoms. An exhibition entitled The New Hellas: Greece and Bavaria in the Time of Ludwig focuses on European historical paintings of Greece and on the representation of the Greco-Bavarian court in art. The collection will be on display at the Bayerische Nationalmuseum until February 13, 2000. A special section deals with reconstruction of Athens undertaken by King Otto in order to create a modern capital. Greek people may tell you that the two colors of their flag symbolize the blue of their sea and the white of the restless waves. Bavarians favor a less romantic explanation. <<<

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