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Sotheby's Announces an Exceptional Array of Greek Art this Winter
Nicos Hadjikiriakos-Ghika, Mistras, oil on canvas, 129 by 194cm., 50¾ by 76¼in., est: £150,000-200,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sotheby's will once again this year bring an exceptional array of Greek art to the market. The company’s second Greek Sale of 2010 will take place in London on Monday, 22 November, 2010 and it will present for sale rare and important works by eminent names in the field such as Nicos Hadjikiriakos-Ghika, Spyros Papaloukas and Constantinos Volanakis.

Beginning and ending his life in Greece, Nikos Hadjikiriakos-Ghika (1906-1994) began his artistic scholarship under Konstantinos Parthenis in Athens, relocating to Paris to work in the studio of Dimitris Galanis. This erudite, well-travelled and sophisticated background nourished the artist’s individual concept of an analytic and mathematical form of modernism. His work came to be infused in theme, subject or spirit by a distinctively Hellenic character, and this visual vocabulary owed much to the methodical teaching of Parthenis, with its emphasis on geometric principles, and to the Byzantine art that Ghika cherished, and the work of artistic luminaries of the Parisian modernist enclave such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Sotheby’s sale will bring to the market one of the largest and most important works by the artist to appear at auction. In Mistras, Ghika transforms the vista into a pulsating, dynamic composition, in his manipulation of the space with folding planes of different decorative elements. It is estimated at £150,000-200,000.

Constantinos Volanakis (1837-1907) is an artist with whom Sotheby’s has had a successful track record in recent years and indeed established a new auction record for a 19th-century Greek painting ever sold at auction when the artist’s The Arrival of Karaiskakis at Faliro sold for £1.6 million in November 2008. The founding father of Greek marine painting will be represented in the forthcoming sale by Fishing Boat on Choppy Waters, estimated at £50,000-70,000 (oil on canvas, 53.5 by 67cm., 21 by 26¼in.). Volanakis' interest in marine subjects was first exposed during his time as an accountant in his brother-in-law Georgios Afentoulis's sugar refinery. There his sketches of the harbour and small ships on the firm's ledgers drew the enthusiastic attention of his employer, and the artist was sent, with the financial backing of his family, to the Academy of Arts in Munich to study under Karl von Piloty. Following his studies he travelled to Venice and Trieste, cities whose picturesque ports and harbour-oriented topography would prove inspirational. It was during his stay in Vienna that Volanakis had the opportunity to travel throughout the Mediterranean in the Austrian navy's training ship, which would prove the inspiration for his coastal and ocean scenes, and the characters that populate his beloved marine panoramas.

Kavsokalyvia, Mount Athos by Spyros Papaloukas (1892-1957), is a rich example of the artist’s finest works from his Mount Athos period. The Holy Skete of Kavsokalyvia is one of the most distant and remote Sketes of Mount Athos, built on a rugged terrain that surmounts a single rock on a cliff overlooking the sea. Paploukas travelled to the region in 1923 after a four-year stay in Paris. The aim of his trip into the wilds of nature was to further his studies of Byzantine iconography and paint the local scenery, as well as to generally recover from his traumatic experiences as a war artist in the Greek army during the Asia Minor campaign. Papaloukas initially trained as an apprentice to an icon painter and he sought comfort in his return to the Byzantine tradition. In his paintings of the landscape and people of his homeland he strove to incorporate the contemporary aesthetic of the Cubists, Impressionists, Nabis and Fauves, who had influenced him during his time in Paris. The monastery scene is estimated at £60,000-80,000 (oil on canvas, 46.5 by 41.5cm., 18¼ by 16¼in.).

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