Greece's most celebrated painter
From Provençal landscapes to Orientalist works and depictions of animals, this sale in Marseille of 19th and 20th century works will feature a major painting by the artist Nikolaos Gysis.
Nikolaos Gysis (1842-1901), The Fortune Teller, 1886, oil on panel, 74.5 x 60 cm.
Make no mistake: this is not just another Orientalist painting. Its creator, Nikolaos Gysis, went far beyond the framework of this style. In Greece, he was one of the most celebrated artists of the 19th century. While he often put the spotlight on his country and its traditions in compositions with men and women in traditional costume, he never restricted himself to such subjects. He actually far preferred intimist, interior scenes – and these works rank the highest at auction. In addition, throughout his career he successfully developed a rich, colourful style, making play with light and shade to created muted atmospheres. Born on the island of Tinos in the Cyclades, Nikolaos Gysis was eight when his family moved to Athens in 1850. After studies at the city's School of Fine Arts, he left for Munich in 1865. This was a traditional journey at that time for Greek artists, who made the most of the historical affinities between their country and the kingdom of Bavaria (Otto von Griechenland became Otto I of Greece in 1835). While Gysis was strongly influenced by the academic style, his discovery of Gustave Courbet, who visited Munich in 1869 for an international exhibition, powerfully coloured his way of painting, orienting him towards more realism. He was also highly sensitive to the Impressionists' light, dynamic treatment of material. His work was imbued by his travels as well, in Asia Minor then Paris in 1876. In 1882, he finally settled in Munich, where he became a professor at the Academy in 1886: the same year he painted this picture, when he was at the peak of his career.