The Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire is celebrated every year on 25th March, the Feast Day of the Annunciation. This year marks the 201st anniversary of the War of Independence, which began in 1821.
To celebrate this year I have created three Lego Figure Portraits of important heroic women who played a strong part in this war: Lascarina Bouboulina (centre), Manto Mavrogenous (left) and Domna Visvisi (right).
Since Ancient times, Greece has been attacked, invaded or temporarily ruled by foreign powers such as Persians, Romans, Venetians, Germans and the Ottomans because of its strategic position in the Mediterranean Sea and its geographical link to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Black Sea.
These portraits are inspired by an article by Andriana Simos at The Greek Herald and are also a sequel to last year’s three Greek male heroes that I created at the request of the Director, Prof. John Bennet of the British School at Athens for the 200th anniversary.
Centre: Lascarina Bouboulina
Bouboulina (1771-1825) was a hero of the Greek War of Independence from Constantinople, who is still revered in Greece today.
She was a naval commander, a financier of the revolutionary forces and is considered to be the first woman to reach the naval rank of admiral. Bouboulina dedicated her life and fortune to the cause of independence for Greece.
With Bouboulina, I based the Lego Portrait on the famous oil painting of her that hangs in the National Museum of History, Athens, with some other inspirations from other images.
The face, as always, is very important with each portrait I make and with Bouboulina it needed to be ferocious, calm and “not to be crossed” (I think of the ancient Greek God Athena when it comes to Bouboulina).
Left: Manto Mavrogenous
Mavrogenous was born to a family of aristocratic lineage in Trieste (now part of Italy) but moved with her family to Paros, Greece when she was a child. Well educated, including in works of the Enlightenment, she was fluent in a number of languages.
Her father was a member of the underground Filiki Eteria (Society of Friends) and Manto continued his revolutionary work after his death in 1818. Mavrogenous dedicated her considerable wealth to the revolutionary cause, providing arms, money, troops and ships.
In addition to her active participation in command and strategy on the ground, through her education and European connections, she was also able to draw foreign support to the Greek revolutionary cause.
Mavrogenous was an interesting challenge as she is such an important and strong person but the way she used her influences in greater society to support the war was so subtle.
It’s very hard to portray that through the medium of LEGO, but I wanted to show a face that seemed approachable on the surface yet had strong intelligence internally and be someone you should never cross!
Right: Domna Visvisi
Visvisi (1783- 1850) was born in Ainos, Thrace, into a wealthy land-owning family and dedicated herself to the fight for Greek independence.
She was a sea captain and a member of the revolutionary and secret Filiki Eteria (Society of Friends) which initiated the Greek War of Independence in 1821.
Visvizi is personally my favourite, both the person and the Lego Portrait. She is a lesser known woman in the history of this war and so it’s much harder to find images of her.
But the one engraving I did find reminded me of a swashbuckling pirate in her dress and the look on her face so in the end that was the feel I went for: strong and passionate with an enthusiasm ready for a sea battle!
By the Lego Classicist.