A painting of his daughter, Penelope, by Nicholaos Gysis (1842-1901) is one of the leading works in Bonhams Greek Art sale in London on April 28th. It is estimated at £50,000-70,000.
Painted in 1882, the work, entitled Little girl, the artist’s daughter, dates from one of the artist’s most creative periods. Penelope, in whose face one observer discerned a noble Greek countenance, is painted with great love and affection as well as consummate skill. It is generally acknowledged that this and other portrayals of his family count among Gysis’ best work. Another of his portraits, Young girl with headscarf, (£25,000-35,000) is also featured in the sale. This insightful painting shows no sign of idealization and the unadorned beauty of the depiction conveys honesty of representation, genuineness of character and purity of form.
The sale features several high quality 19th and early 20th century works including the delightful and atmospheric Old Mill in Hydra (£40,000-60,000) by Michalis Economou (1888-1933). During the last years of his life Economou spent the summer months on Hydra and his exquisite views of the island count among the best of his mature works. It has been said of his Hydra paintings, “He didn’t copy nor stage what he saw; instead, he conveyed everything that could express this historic Greek rock.” The same artist’s House and mill (20,000-30,000) painted on the coast near Marseilles while he was living and working in France in the 1920s shows his abiding fascination with water and the ocean.
The Greek love of the sea is also found in two very different works by other 19th artists. Shore Scene (£20,000-30,000) by Vassilios Hatzis (1870-1915) shows a fisherman looking out to sea from his boat. In contrast, Junction in choppy seas (£20,000-30,000) by the short-lived but brilliant Jean Altamoura (1852-1878) shows an assurance of technique rarely found in so young an artist. In 1875, while studying on a state scholarship at the Academy of Fine Art in Copenhagen, Altamoura spent the summer on the Royal Danish Naval frigate ‘Jylland’ and this work dates from that period.
Painters from one of the best known and highly regarded periods of 20th century Greek Art – the Generation of the 1930s – are prominent in the April 28th sale. Moon over wall/Moon with mist (£100,000-150,000) is one of four fine landscapes by Ghika (1906-1994). Yiannis Tsarouchis (1916-2009) is represented by several paintings including Woman from Atalanti with red purse (£80,000-120,000) and two works Athlete with white vest (15,000-20,000) and Sailor’s hand and belt (£6,000-8,000) reflecting his lifelong interest in the male form. Zephyros, a work by the third major artist of the 30s Generation, Yiannis Moralis, is estimated at £60,000-80,000 and his Erotic at £20,000-30,000.
The work of contemporary Greek artists has an increasing following among collectors and the sale includes pieces from Pavlos (born 1930) with Chaussettes at £40,000-60,000, Chryssa (1933-2013) whose Chinatown is estimated at £20,000-30,000; Lucas Samaras (born 1936) whose Medium Still Life no 3 is expected to sell for between £12,000-18,000) and George Lappas (born 1950) with Red figure at £8,000-12,000.
“All the main movements in Greek Art from the 19th century to the present day are represented in this sale with high quality works that showcase the breadth of subject, technique and style of the nation’s artistic heritage,” said Bonhams Greek Art specialist Olympia Pappa.
For a full listing of the Bonhams Greek Art sale please visit bonhams.com.