The Argenti is home to the charmingly idiosyncratic collections of 20th-century Chian aristocrat and local historian Philip Argenti, who gathered costumes, embroideries, and folk objects from around the island. In addition, there hangs in the museum portraits of past generations of the Argenti family among which is a copy of Eugène Delacroix’s despair-filled painting, Scenes from the Massacre at Chios. The original, in the Louvre in Paris, was inspired by the events of 1822, when Turks savagely ended the Greek struggle for independence on Chios by killing 20,000 men, enslaving 50,000 women and children, and exiling another 20,000; only 2,000 Greeks remained on Chios after the attacks. News of the slaughter did much to rally western Europe behind the Greek Independence movement—fueled in large part by this painting and a popular poem by Victor Hugo, “L’Enfant de Chios.” Most of the rare volumes in the adjoining Korais Library are from wealthy islanders; it’s a testimony to the fortunes made in Chios from shipping that the 135,000-volume collection is one of the largest in Greece.
- Frommer's Staff