Old Athens Comes To Life in Remarkable Exhibit at Benaki Museum



Evzones in front of Athens’ Royal Palace (the modern Parliament Building). Photo by Alexander Lamont Henderson. Courtesy of Benaki Museum

A photography exhibition opens on Wednesday in the Greek capital, with the rare black and white photos shot by the famous photographer Alexander Lamont Henderson being exhibited for the first time to an Athenian audience.

Handerson visited Athens in 1904 and took photographs depicting the early 20th century Greek capital, showing a still life of a small and charming city, with the majesty of the Acropolis standing over sweeping vistas of open fields. The photographs stand as an amazing comparison to the chaos of big-city life in today’s Athens.

View of the Athens Acropolis in 1904. Photo by Alexander Lamont Henderson. Benaki Museum

As the Benaki museum notes, Henderson’s lens turns away from the iconographic stereotypes of the time and depicts scenes from everyday life in the city, with street vendors often being the protagonists.

The images taken inside the royal palaces of Athens and Tatoi are also of great historical interest.

Evzones in 1904. Photo by Alexander Lamont Henderson. Benaki Museum

Alexander Lamont Henderson was born in Britain in 1838. He was singled out for his photographic services by Queen Victoria of England and he was later elected a member of the Royal Photographic Society.

Two women in 1904, in the Athenian suburb of Neo Faliro. Photo by Alexander Lamont Henderson. Benaki museum

The information related to his life and work is scanty. Tragically, his “royal” images were destroyed after the death of Queen Victoria. His “commercial” work, which would today serve as an important historical record, was donated to the library of the London Guildhall Museum in 1907 and was destroyed by a bombing raid in WWII.

The exhibition will take place in the Ghika Gallery of the Benaki Museum, at 3 Kriezotou Street. The exhibit will be open until May 4, 2019.