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Culture

Embassy of Greece & UCLA SNF Hellenic Center Presented Bouboulina Event

March 14, 2021

LOS ANGELES – The Embassy of Greece and the UCLA Stavros Niarchos Foundation Hellenic Center presented An Introduction to a Heroine of the Greek Revolution and her Context: Views from the Bouboulina Museum via Zoom on March 13.

The fascinating and informative discussion drew over 400 participants from around the world to hear about the heroine of the Greek War of Independence, Laskarina Bouboulina. Pavlos Demertzis-Bouboulis, Director of the Bouboulina Museum, presented the life and actions of his famous ancestor, naval commander Laskarina Bouboulina, and led the viewers on an exclusive walk through her 350-year-old home. Founded in 1991, the former residence is now a museum and cultural center on Spetses and specializes in the Greek War of Independence and the life of the revolutionary heroine Bouboulina, who until recently, was the first and only woman in world naval history to hold the title of Admiral.

Pavlos Demertzis-Bouboulis was born in 1989 in Greece. After growing up on the island of Spetses, he studied Business at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, graduating in 2010. A sixth generation descendant of Greek revolutionary heroine Laskarina Bouboulina, he started work as a tour guide in the family-run Bouboulina Museum from a young age and over the years progressively moved on to Public Relations and Marketing. He has represented the museum at state and public events, national holidays, exhibitions as well as overseas. After the passing of his father Philip, the founder of the museum, in 2018, he has taken on the role of Director and with the unstinting support and assistance of his family continues to work towards the museum’s founding principle to restore and preserve Bouboulina’s mansion as the national monument it is today, while at the same time guiding the museum firmly into the 21st century.

Sharon Gerstel, Professor of Byzantine Art & Archaeology, George P. Kolovos Family Centennial Term Chair in Hellenic Studies and Director of the UCLA SNF Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture, gave the welcoming remarks and introduced Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandra Papadopoulou who offered her greetings for the event honoring Bouboulina during this extraordinary year of the Bicentennial of the Greek Revolution and also Women’s History month.

Prof. Gerstel then introduced Pavlos Demertzis-Bouboulis whose presentation and virtual tour of the Bouboulina Museum delighted the participants who expressed their gratitude for the presentation with several comments and questions about how they could support the museum and its mission. One participant offered to set up a GoFundMe campaign to help the museum though these difficult times while many others looked forward to visiting in person as soon as possible. 

Among the fascinating facts about Bouboulina and her extraordinary story, Demertzis-Bouboulis noted that the famous painting of her which hangs in the entrance hall of the house and museum is a copy, and the original is in a private collection in Germany. He expressed the hope that one day the original would be loaned for an exhibition at the museum.

Bouboulina’s tremendous contributions to the War of Independence were also highlighted in the presentation, including her building of the warship Agamemnon and spending her great fortune on supporting the cause. Among the impressive artifacts in the museum’s collection is the license to build the Agamemnon, signed by the sultan at the time. The document has a drawing of the plans for the ship on the back.

An 1811 icon of St. Nicholas, featuring 12 scenes from the saint’s life, was likely made in memory of Bouboulina’s second husband Dimitrios Bouboulis, who was killed at sea in the crossfire between pirates and a French frigate that year.

The painting by an unknown artist of Bouboulina attacking Nafplio was cited for its parallels to the famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze, highlighting the longstanding connections between Greece and the United States through philhellenism and the fight for freedom, Demertzis-Bouboulis noted.

Bouboulina’s tragic death in 1825, at age 54, cut short her remarkable life, but her legacy of leadership and bravery against the odds continues to live on and inspire us to the present day.

The presentation was followed by a Q&A session which further illuminated the heroine of the Revolution.

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