Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Nikolaos Gyzis: Chronicler of 19th Century Realism

 There are so many artists who either were famous in their time and later forgotten or the opposite - not given much credit to their lifetime, but are famous now. This week's artist falls into the former. 

Born on the Greek island of Tinos, Nikolaos Gyzis (1842-1901)  

trained in art in both Athens and later in Germany, where he would become a professor of Fine Art in Munich. He is considered to be one of the most influential artists of Academic Realism in the late 19th century. 





Gyzis created a genre series that is compelling based on his years growing up in Greece. It was seeing one of his paintings, in his evolution as an artist, that deeply touched me. It's a grandfather holding his sleeping grandchild while he mends a sock.(The Greek families have a special regard for their grandparents. Insofar as I've experienced, there are still special ties between grandparents and grandchildren.)*



His touching paintings of 19th century life are mixed here with a few of his excellent portraits. It's no wonder that he received so many awards and recognition. For some reason, perhaps because he painted so many genre paintings, I found myself thinking, "He's the Norman Rockwell of another century." What do you think?






*When the first boy child is born, he is given the name of his paternal grandfather. A second boy child is given the name of his maternal grandfather. For the first girl child, she is given the name of her maternal grandmother and the paternal grandmother for a subsequent girl child. The genius of carrying it through is heightened because until modern days, birthday celebrations were nominal. It was the saint's name feast day that the grandparent shared with the their grandchildren that was celebrated. 


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