The Greek Art of Painting in the 19th Century

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Greek Painters of the 19th century

In General

The history of Modern Greek Painters coincides with the history of the independent Greek state. In December 31st, 1836, the “School of Fine Arts” is established by the new state in Athens. It was open only on Sundays for free, where foreign teachers, mostly German and French, taught the art of painting and gave scholarships to students so they could continue studying abroad. The Greek painters were sent in the “Arts Academy of Munich”. During this first period of Modern Greek art, the themes in the paintings are portraits, historical scenes, moments of everyday life, people wearing local clothes and sea sceneries. European centres which influenced the Modern Greek Art apart from the Art Academy in Munich where those of Italy, Austria, and France.

Famous Greek painters of that time are the following:

Theodoros Vrizakis


He was born in Thiva in 1814. His father was honked by the Turk, as a soldier in the War of Independence, when he was 15 years old. He studied with scholarship in the Academy of Munich. He was the first Greek painter who studied there. He is one of the main representatives of historical paintings at that time, with precise representations of Greek history. The paintings he drew were made in order to promote heroism and encourage the Greek spirit in the War and were used as propaganda to reinforce the Greek spirit. In his images he focused on the clothing of the people and the scenery setup around them. He is considered to be the first Greek painter of the Independent Greece.
He died in Munich in 1878.




Nikephoros Lytras


He was born in Tinos island in 1832. When he was 18 years old he studied in the “School of Arts” in Athens for six years. Then he continued in the Royal Academy of Munich with scholarship. In 1866 he was appointed professor in the
”School of Arts” of Athens, where he taught for thirty-eight years. He got married in 1879 and had six children. His art mainly consists of themes concerning Dead Nature (seeds, food and dead animals) and Ethography (customs and morals of a nation or a place, shown as images). He painted moments of people living in nature on their everyday life. Significant amount of his paintings concern childhood images. He tries to imprint moments of children wearing local uniforms doing their activities. He was also the official portraitist of Athens’ high society.
He died in 1904 in Athens.


Nikolaos Gyzis


He was born in Tinos island in 1842. He began his studies in the “School of Arts” in Athens when he was seventeen. In the meanwhile he took lessons in block print and copper print. In 1865 Gyzis accepted a scholarship in Germany and started studying in the Academy of Munich. Soon he got recognition and success there. In 1873 he went on a trip with Lytras in the East from where they both evolved artistically. He got married in 1877 in Greece and returned to Munich where he became a professor in the university. From 1886 he gradually turned from the detailed realistic depictions towards compositions of a singularly impressionistic character. Towards the end of his life, around 1890s, he took a turn toward more religious themes.
He died there in 1901 in Munich.


Konstantinos Volanakis


Battle of Lissa

He was born in Heraklion, Krete in 1837, where he spent his childhood. He moved to Tergest in 1856 as an accountant at his uncle’s commercial house. He began his first drawings there imprinting his impressions from the harbor. He studied in Munich, in the Academy of Fine Arts for 3-4 years, where he specified in painting seascape. In 1883 he returned to Greece where he got appointed as a professor in the “School of Arts”. His favorite subject is painting the sea, fishermen, boats, mornings and sunsets, night in the moonlight. Sea is present in almost all his paintings, although it is used as background.
He died in Athens in 1907.




George Iakovidis

Girl from Megara
Cold shower

He was born in Lesvos island in 1853. He studied in the “School of Arts” in Athens and he was an excellent student. In 1877 he continued his studies with scholarship in Munich. He also opened a studio there after his studies where he painted taking part in national exhibitions and wining various awards and medals. In 1900 he returned to Athens where he undertook the organization of the National Art Gallery. He also got elected as professor in the “School of Fine Arts” and later on he became Principal of the school. At the same time he maintained a luxurious studio where he used for painting portraits of the wealthy people of Athens. Amongst his most significant paintings are the children’s scenes, where children and grandparents are pictured in a symbolic way: people getting old, meeting life, affection of the elder and children’s egoism. Iakovidis is considered to be the “painter of the children”.
He died in Athens in 1932.



Follow the link to the

“Georgios Jakobides” Digital Museum


Chydira, Lesvos Island, Greece

+30 22530 51128/51195


The first difital art museum in Greece, located at Chidira, a mountainous village on th eisland of Lesbos.
The Georgios Iakovidis Digital Museum, located at the painter's birthplace, the village of Chidira on the island of Lesbos, is the first fully digital museum of art in Greece. Organized according to a special museological study based on new technologies, it presents the life and work of the renowned Greek painter through a variety of digital means. The Georgios Iakovidis Digital Museum was created on the initiative of the N. G. Papadimitriou Educational and Cultural Foundation. It is intended to function as a meeting place for Technology and Art, offering visitors of all ages a visual experience that combines both pleasure and knowledge.
The ground floor offers an insight of Iakovidis's personality and the major milestones of his life (1853-1932), through digital applications using archive material illustrating family events, his professional accomplishments and his social circle. Also on this floor, the "Georgios Iakovidis, His Life and Work" application offers visitors an alternative way of further exploring the distinguished artist's life and work.
The first floor is devoted to Georgios Iakovidis's multifaceted oeuvre, from his early years of study under his teacher Nikiforos Lytras and the works he created in his mature years in Munich, to the portraits of his grandchildren painted at the end of his life. Mythological subjects, scenes of childhood, landscapes, portraits, still life, flower compositions, come alive through a variety of digital means, such as TFT screens, touch screens, bilingual text panels with duratrance images, holoscreens. Various tricks, like the magnifying lens pointing out details on a painting, the illustration of significant elements through interesting graphics and their comparison to other works of Iakovidis himself, his teacher Nikiforos Lytras and major German painters, are but some of the media the Digital Museum uses to enhance the 'educational' aspect of art.
At the lower level, visitors can watch a video on Iakovidis artistic career. The same space is also used for educational activities.
The Georgios Iakovidis Digital Museum organizes educational programs for groups of all school levels, as well as guided tours for adults. The CD-Rom "Inside Georgios Iakovidis Studio", designed especially for children, presents the painter's works accompanied by interpretive texts and games. All programmes aim at getting the visitor better acquainted with the painter's multifaceted oeuvre, as well as at encouraging children's creativity.
The Museum Shop offers CD-Roms, books, posters, cards and objects related to Georgios Iakovidis work.

Simon (Simeon) Savvidis

Boats in Vosporos

He was born in 1859 in Pontos of Asia Minor. He studied in Constantinople (Istanbul) then he continued in the Commercial School in Halki. He started his art studies in Athens when he was 19 years old, in “School of Arts”. Then he left to Munich, in the “Academy of Fine Arts”, studying archaic model sketching. During that time he met with Gyzis and Volanakis who were also in Munich. He lived there for forty-five years working and exposing his paintings there. In his work he tries to represent reality the way he sees and understands it. Light and colours are of great importance in his paintings. He focused on the human form as well as the eastern scenery. He painted authentic Oriental scenes, inspired by his repeated trips to his fatherland, in which he captured not only the atmosphere but also the light that enlivened the profuse colour of the Orient.
He moved to Athens permanently in 1895 and died in 1927.

Polychronis Lembesis

Child with Rabbits

He was born in Salamina island in 1848. When he was a child he stayed in a monastery for two years, where he learned to paint with the monks. His talent was detected there by a monk who, with the financial help of the monastery, convinced his parents to send him to Athens in the School of Arts. He went to High School and studied at the same time. Then he continued his studies in Munich and in 1880 he returned to Athens where he started working there. He painted portraits, the nature of Greece, the sun, the sea and the trees, scenes from agricultural life. In his last years he painted for the church (painting of Holy). He was a loner in his life, lived on the side, most of the time in his studio, painting.
He died alone, poor and unknown in 1913.



Nikolaos Kounelakis

Portrait of Zoe

He was born in Crete island in Hania in 1829. He left with his family in Odessa, a big commercial port if Russia, after the Turk’s persecution. At the age of 12 he started studying in the Academy of Fine Arts in Petersburg. There he was awarded with the first prize in painting. He mostly drew perfect portraits in romantic and strict poses. He also drew nude, in severity, where the expression in the faces seems noble and humble. After Russia he visited Italy, where he settled in Florence. There he married Zoe Kabani, but she died a year later. He travelled for some years and ended up in Cairo Egypt where he died in 1869 at the age of 40.




Periclis Pantazis

Beach scene

He was born in Athens in 1849. He had his first studies there, in the School of Fine Arts, with scholarship. He graduated first in his class in 1871 having Nikephoro Lytra and Vicenzo Lanza as teachers. Later he went to Munich only for a few months. He preferred to go to Marseille where he stayed and worked there with his brother for a few months. After that he went to Paris, which was an international cultural center where the impressionism popped out. In 1873 he went to Brussels where he settled there permanently. He drew mainly landscapes, seascapes, and portraits. His paintings are full of sensitivity and vivid colors. At the same time he had a son with Eugenie Philipette.
His health was getting worse and he died of consumption in 1884.


Georgios Iakovidis


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