FRIEDEL, Adam de. The Greeks, Twenty-four Portraits of the principal Leaders and Personages who have made themselves most conspicuous in the Greek Revolution, from the Commencement of the Struggle, London, Adam de Friedel, 1832.
The Danish Adam Friedel (1780- ?) served as military official during the Napoleonic wars. After the wars, he accompanied a Danish nobleman on his journey to the Ottoman Empire. Friedel was initiated to Filiki Etaireia and, after several voyages and missions to Russia, ended up in Zakynthos. At the beginnings of the Greek War of Independence he was in the Peloponnese, and enlisted voluntarily in the Greek military forces, styling himself lieutenant Baron Friedel von Friedelsburg, of aristocratic descent.
Friedel became closely acquainted with Kolokotronis, Nikitaras, Petrobey Mavromichalis, Markos Botsaris, Demetrios Ypsilantis, Ioannis Kolettis, Alexander Mavrokordatos and others. Through his knowledge of foreign languages and his culture, he gained Demetrios Ypsilantis' trust, and was assigned several missions. However, in June 1822 a fellow Danish lieutenant revealed Friedel's lies about his lineage.
Friedel was then expelled from the regular Greek Army. In 1823 he travelled to Egypt intending to collect money for the Greek Struggle from his fellow countrymen residing in that country.
In 1824, Friedel was in Mesolonghi with Lord Byron. When I.I. Meyer published a warning to philhellenic societies, advising them to avoid Friedel, described as a crook, in the journal “Ellinikia Chronika”, Friedel took refuge in London, where he opened a lithographer's shop.
In 1825 and 1826 Friedel printed and published, both in Paris and London, twenty-four lithographs with portraits of politicians and eminent military figures of the Greek War of Independence. He had drawn the portraits himself, in most cases from nature, while J. Bouvier coloured and lithographed these images.
The series was very successful, in Europe as well as in the USA and India, and was repeatedly republished down to 1832, thus helping the efforts of the Philhellenic committees to promote the Greek cause in Europe.
Due to health reasons, Friedel was forced to leave England and settle in southern France and later Italy. In 1849, he came to Athens, where he was awarded two important decorations for his contribution to the Greek Struggle for Independence.
He then travelled to Smyrna and taught at a Greek school of the city for two years. During the Crimean war, he stayed at the Ottoman capital, where he painted the portraits of several politicians.
Due to health reasons again, Friedel moved to Bohemia for a short period and then returned to Athens, where he stayed until 1863. After a short stay in Istanbul, Friedel returned again to Athens in 1865 and submitted to King George I a report comprised of documents on his contribution to the cause of Greece's independence, asking for a pension for his services to Greece. The place and date of his death remain unknown.
Friedel's portraits of Greek revolutionaries became symbols of freedom, aroused consciences, motivated several distinguished personalities of the time to support the Greek Revolution and became emblems of Philhellenism in faraway countries. Today, Friedel's lithographs are very much sought-after in art auctions.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou