The Negroponte Mansion
The Negroponte mansion, the venue proposed to house the Cyclades Drawing Center (owned by Agios Nikolaos Orthodox Church in Hermoupolis), was built circa 1860 and is a notable landmark of the island’s history and architecture, designated by ministerial decree a “work of art”.
The Negroponte Mansion, rests on 212.85m² of land with access to both Athenas and Diogenous streets, in the aristocratic Vaporia district. The mansion consists of a two-storey building of approximately 517.50m², including a basement and an attic, as well as a patio area and a small garden. The mansion’s ground floor has four (4) spacious rooms that surround the large drawing room (reception room), and two (2) wc’ s. The drawing room is located in the center of the building offering views over Diogenous street and Athenas street, as well as access to the patio, through the balcony.
The first floor’s room arrangement follows the same motif as the ground floor, with a second large drawing room in the center and a bathroom, a kitchen and four airy rooms surrounding it.
The lower ground level, has a kitchen, a spacious sitting room and two (2) additional rooms that face the patio along with two cellars at the back of the house.
The architectural details of the manor are of great importance for the history of the island, due to their intact condition to a degree, describing the magnificence of a previous era. The masonry is of carefully finished marble and the architectural details are exceptionally rendered. The balcony, overlooking Diogenous St., has a marble frame in place of the ironwork, and the underside has small panels and rosettes.
One interesting feature is the triple-arched opening at the rear of the building, which extends the height of the basement and the ground floor.
The Negroponte Mansion boasts a stunning interior. Right inside the main entrance, which originally gave access to both floors, is the foot of the monumental marble staircase that leads up to the first floor. The entrance, has a paneled ceiling, with white, gold-centered rosettes painted on a blue ground.
To the right lies the entrance to the ground floor, replete with Corinthian anta capitals, and a crowning member consisting of floral motifs arranged in the shape of a pediment, within which is set the family coat-of-arms.
The reception rooms on both floors have exquisite wall murals. The wooden door with a crowning member in the form of a pediment of floral motifs encircling the relief escutcheon could also be seen from the hall.
This door led to the large main room on the ground floor which opens onto an arched veranda overlooking the sea.
The painted decoration of this room is very imposing. There are large borders painted on the walls, emphasized by gold meander patterns; inside the borders are painted floral motifs, flowers, masks, and mythical creatures. Colored flowers and mythical winged creatures are also painted above the doors in separate frames.
The ceiling is divided into eight large panels. The ribs between them are adorned with guilloches, meander patterns, a Lesbian and an Ionic molding, and stars, while in the panels themselves are set paintings that were executed separately in the painter’s studio and then put into position on the ceiling. The subject matter is drawn from mythology: it depicts Poseidon, Athena, Ares, Artemis, Aphrodite and other gods —most of them riding in their chariots — in well-known scenes from the myths. The paintings in the large living room on the first floor, which measures 4.92 x 6.30 m., are equally rich and impressive.
The center of the ceiling has a rosette painted on a light blue ground, surrounded by concentric circles adorned with garlands and other floral motifs. Golden medallions are set at four points of the outer circle. The rest of the ceiling is painted in a light pink color with small painted gold stars scattered over it. However, the main decoration covers the lower curve of the ceiling above the walls, forming a kind of frieze on all four sides of the room. This is adorned with twelve panels containing figures — the nine Muses and four ancient poets. In each corner there are two long panels with a deep blue ground and a gold border with rich floral decoration;
On the sides of the frieze are four male figures wearing crowns of laurel, again set in frames, encircled by gold stars. One of them is portrayed as blind, and is undoubtedly Homer, while the other three are to be identified with the three great tragic poets, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. At the base of the ceiling there are gold masks under each of the poets, and gold medallions beneath the panels with the Muses. The decoration of the room is completed by four landscapes (views of Italian a scene of women bathing), painted above the four original doors in the room. These scenes are framed by gold borders and look like hanging pictures.
The Negroponte mansion is undoubtedly one of the unique Neoclassical features of Hermoupolis and after its restoration, it will be a distinguished element of the city’s Neoclassical walking tour.