Peter von Hess
The Entry of King Othon of Greece into Nauplia, 1835
Öl auf Leinwand, 269 x 415 cm
1835 durch König Ludwig I. vom Künstler erworben
Inv. Nr. WAF 352
The Entry of King Othon of Greece into Nauplia
In 1832/33 Peter von Hess accompanied Otto von Bayern to Greece, where the Prince was enthroned by the European powers as king. The Greek populace had great expectations for the new king, the 17 year old son of King Ludwig I. The young king was to pave the way for the reconstruction of the country, which was formed after a victory in the war of independence against the Ottoman empire. However, King Othon was deposed in 1862 after having rejected the Greeks' requests for stronger parliamentary procedures.
The painting shows the king's embarkation and ceremonial entry into Nauplia, at that time the capital of Greece. It was commissioned by King Ludwig I and was meant to document the beginning of Otto's rule in Greece, as would a similar painting of his reception in Athens, completed several years later. Hess painted a vivid, lively scene of Otto's arrival: The young king, on horseback in the foreground, and his entourage are greeted enthusiastically by the masses. The painter has rendered not only the nature in great detail, but also the individual provincial costumes. Nevertheless Hess did not paint a realistic documentation: His use of glowingly bright coloration and refined composition belies a romanticized artificiality. The movement of the figures and the rising smoke creates a scene that nearly resembles a snapshot: The salutary canon blasts appear to have just been fired off and are visually echoed by the white smoke, which is already being blown away.