Sothebys London To Stage Its Most Important Greek Sale to Date

. March 12, 2008

LONDON – Following the rise and growth of the Greek Art market in recent years, Sotheby’s forthcoming sale of Greek Art on Thursday, April 17, 2008 will be the most important sale of its kind ever staged. Sales of Greek Art at Sotheby’s in 2007 realised a record-breaking £15.6 million / €22.5 million, which represented a 97.5% increase on the same figure in 2006 and was the highest annual total ever achieved for sales of Greek Art at any auction house. The forthcoming sale is set to present 177 lots.

Constantine Frangos, Senior Director and Specialist in Charge of the Greek Sales at Sotheby’s, states: “In light of the huge success of our Greek sales in recent years and the escalation in demand for Greek Art that we have witnessed, we’re delighted to respond by bringing one of the most important groups of Greek paintings ever offered at auction. The Greek Art market is a vibrant one and we expect interest in our forthcoming sale from collectors all over the world.”

The sale will bring to the market important works by an impressive showcase of key figures in the field of Greek Art. Major paintings by 19th century Greek artists such as Constantinos Volanakis, Georges Jakobides, Theodoros Rallis, Nikiphoros Lytras, Theofilos Hadjimichael and Nikolaos Gysis will be offered alongside the leading 20th century names of Yannis Tsarouchis, Diamantis Diamondopoulos, Nikos Hadjikiriakos-Ghika, Pavlos, Yiannis Gaitis and Alekos Fassionos, among others.

An unprecedented ten works by Constantinos Volanakis will be presented for sale and these will represent the most important group of paintings by the artist ever to appear at auction. Volanakis was an artist of great renowned in both 19th century Greek painting and marine art. He had a particular passion for the sea, ships and fishermen and his marine studies are arguably among his finest works. This interest in marine subjects first emerged during his time working as an accountant for his brother-in-law’s sugar firm and his idle sketches of the harbour and the ships on the firm’s ledgers drew the enthusiastic attention of his employer. Along the Coast will lead the offerings by Vokanakis and the work, estimated at £300,000-500,000, shows the artist at his greatest, sensitively and delicately depicting the atmospheric conditions and natural elements of the setting. Other notable pieces by Volanakis are Along the Coast, Volos, estimated at £200,000-300,000, Sunset Over a Greek Port, estimated at £100,000-150,000, and Fishing on Calm Waters, which is expected to fetch £80,000-120,000.

An important assemblage of seven works by Georges Jakobides will be a further notable group and Jakobides is best known for his insightful and often humorous portrayals of children. His Grandpa’s New Pipe, shows an intimate yet comical theme and is expected to fetch £200,000-300,000. The painting is a quintessential genre scene which is full of vitality, expression and sentiment and Jakobides himself actually acknowledged it as one of his most important paintings, exhibiting it in Munich (1886) and Berlin (1891).

Jakobides’ observations of everyday life were strongly influenced by the work of the Dutch Golden Age artist Frans Hals. Additional works by him to go under the hammer will be Maternal Affection and Playtime, which are estimated at £50,000-70,000 and £25,000-35,000 respectively.

Further stand-out works in the sale will include the elegant A Tree-Lined Road by Constantinos Parthenis – the father of modern Greek painting – which is estimated at £80,000-120,000. This canvas comes from a private collection in the Czech Republic. A Tree-Lined Road has a delicate beauty and it captures an ethereal light, which shows shade and tonal contrasts that were typical of many Symbolist landscapes of the period. Parthenis moved in similar circles to the prominent Viennese Symbolist, Gustav Klimt, and the literary and philosophical origins of Symbolism – with its idealistic also elements and focus on dream, fantasy and poetry – corresponded with a model of modernism that Greek painters identified with and considered worthy of the Greek classical tradition. Parthenis took a great deal of inspiration from the crosspollination of ideas and styles that occurred between artists of varying nationalities and his A Tree-Lined Road’s sun-dappled and pointillist style also shows Impressionist influences.

Diamantis Diamandopoulos’ Seated Greek Sergeant will be another star of the show with an estimate of 150,000-200,000. Diamandopoulos was greatly inspired by the ideas and styles of the modern French masters and this can be seen in this work. The painting’s pulsating planes of colour, decorative surface and overall vibrancy and power show the influence of Henri Matisse in particular.

Nicholas Gysis will be represented in the sale by three works, among them Mother and Child. Estimated at £150,000-200,000, the painting – which gives a naturalistic portrayal of a young mother holding her child – shows Gysis’ style veering into the spheres of religion and allegory.

Exhibition dates in London: Sunday 13, April 12noon-4pm, Monday 14, April 9am-4.30pm, Tuesday 15, April 9am-4.30pm, and Wednesday 16, April 9am-4.30pm.

Category: Auction News

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