top of page

The history of a building that represents the "Heart of Romanian culture"

In the sphere of the same interest for decoration comes the constant concern formulated by C. Esarcu and Al. Odobescu since 1888, to create a monumental fresco on the circular wall of the hall, a fresco that must evoke the most important moments of our national history, but at the same time create a faithful image of the specificity of the Romanian soul.

Proposing in 1901, a project in the spirit of what was shown above, the painter Ștefan Popescu wanted to create this 300 square meter work on canvas, considering that this way the hall would not have to be closed for a while. But the lack of sufficient funds makes the project drag on for many years.

Finally, Prof. Costin Petrescu's project for the creation of a fresco representing important moments in Romanian history in 25 episodes is accepted. The funds came from public subscription.

The work in length of 75 square meters and width of 3 m started in 1933 in the "al Fresco" technique will be inaugurated on May 26, 1938.

We consider that a brief description of the scenes is interesting because their ideational value is clearly superior to the artistic value, a fact that does not surprise us considering the programmatic character of the work and the need to submit the composition, drawing and color of the space offered, in an ensemble with certain plastic and decorative coordinates. But let's follow the sequence of episodes:

Among the 25 scenes, the last one has a very special history, especially since today it no longer exists in its original form. At the time of the inauguration of the fresco, the painter Costin Petrescu described the scene as follows: "The national epic ends with a final painting, which symbolically depicts the duties of our generation today. Against a background of a modern city with the attributes of public work and armed power, Carol II, the King of Culture, accompanied by his august son Grand Voivode Mihai, descends the steps of an edifice in the midst of the people called this time to strengthen the Great Heritage through strong cultural training". 

Overall, the fresco is done in a somewhat free manner, one can speak of a flat realistic style. The chromatic dominant is cold, abounding in grays. Hence the general slightly blurred effect, without special plastic accents.

These features of the fresco might mean at first glance that the work lacks artistic interest. However, in the hall as a whole these data become in a way qualities, the work occupying its place or discreetly, as a kind of pendant of the warm tones of red and gold in the luxuriant decorative wealth of the dome.

Serving the beautiful idea that national history should be presented as an open book, in which every viewer can find something of the greatness of the past and thus meditate on the spiritual and moral values of our people, the fresco of the Athenaeum is significant for the emblematic character of the monument.

Scena 1
Scena 2
Scena 3
Scena 4
Scena 5
Scena 6
Scena 7
Scena 8
Scena 9
Scena 10
Scena 11
Scena 12
Scena 13
Scena 14
Scena 15
Scena 16
Scena 17
Scena 18
Scena 19
Scena 20
Scena 21
Scena 22
Scena 23
Scena 24
Scena 25
bottom of page