The Burning of a Turkish Frigate

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Two versions of the same subject, a typical battle tactic of the Greek War of Independence, as envisioned by Constantinos Volanakis, perhaps the greatest Greek painter of the nineteenth century. The second painting appeared at a Sotheby’s sale in 2011 and the catalogue describes the subject thus:

“The Burning of a Turkish Frigate depicts a strategic battle scheme used by Greek revolutionary fighters to attack their Turkish oppressors which eventually lead to the liberation of Greece. The tactic of attaching a small boat laden with explosives (known as a fire ship) to the side of a frigate was used by maritime heroes such as Canaris, Papamanolis and Barbatsis. One of the most famous of such ambushes was the destruction of the ‘Mansourija’. On the evening of 27 May 1821 the thirty three year old freedom fighter Dimitris Papamanolis sailed his small vessel up to the port side of the frigate and set it ablaze. The devastating fire spread throughout the Turkish ship killing 600 sailors.”

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