© National Gallery
Grave Composition, Y. Moralis
The actual founding of the institution dates back to 1900, when the relevant decree was published and the duties of curator were undertaken by George Iakovides (1900-1918). Already, however, in 1834, within the framework of the new social organization - on Western European lines - of the newly-born Greek state, the decree "On Technological Collections" provided for the founding, in Athens, of a Museum of paintings and engravings. Alexandros Soutzos, a lawyer and art-lover, donated all his property and his collection of works of art, for the creation of a Museum of painting. In 1918, under the directorship of Zacharias Papantoniou (1918-1940), the first constitution of the National Art Gallery was drawn up and, in 1954, the gallery was amalgamated with the Alexandros Soutzos Museum of Painting. The Art Gallery gives priority to the presentation of the Greek art of the period after the War of Independence. The initial nucleus of paintings, which had already been formed in the early years of the new state, under governor Capodistria, was enriched by donations, particularly of works of western European art, which had belonged to wealthy Greeks of the diaspora. To the 117 works, which the museum numbered in 1878, were added a large number of paintings donated by Alexandros Soutzos, among which are paintings by Caravaggio, Andrea Pavia, Stefano Tzangarolo, Ghyzis, Lytras, Volanakis, etc. Today, the National Gallery possesses a collection of 9.500 paintings, sculptures and engravings as well as miniatures and furniture.