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by Archaeology Newsroom

Ziller’s Painted Decoration in Athenian Mansions and Hansen’s Influence

The drawings of the German architect Ernst Ziller for the painted decoration of Athenian mansions reveal the influence exercised on him by the Greek and Roman antiquity, the Renaissance and Theophil Hansen’s creation. Ziller’s regular visits to Vienna, where Hansen was active since he had left Athens in 1846, gave him the opportunity to become informed of the work of his close friend and colleague and to be acquainted with the painters of the so-called “Rahl cycle”, such as Eduard Bitterlich. A follower of Historism flourishing at that time in Vienna, Ziller introduced to Athens its decorative vocabulary. Hansen’s affect on Ziller’s decorative work is obvious when comparing, for example, the ceilings of Psycha’s mansion with those by Palais Todesco and Epstein or various unidentified Ziller’s drawings with Hansen’s relevant work in Archduke Wilhelm’s mansion. The two architects have also similarly treated the subject of the Muses, both in layout and representation. Ziller’s surviving oeuvre verifies his choice to act as a representative of the “Gesamtkunstwerk” concept: when related to architecture, painting and sculpture should be considered interrelated and complementary arts, an approach also consistently followed and fervently supported by Theophil Hansen.