Farmer from Tinos signed 'N. Gysis' (lower left) oil on panel 40.7 x 31 cm. (16 x 12 1/4 in.)
Provenance: Sale no 237 of Neumeister, Munich, 11 Dec.1986. Private collection, Athens.
Literature: Nelli Misirli, Gyzis, Adam publ., Athens 1995, p. 62 (illustrated).
Exhibited : Athens, Pieridis Gallery, Greek Artists in corporate private collections, 8- 19 April 1987
A work of remarkable expressive power and incisive observation evoking childhood memories, Farmer from Tinos is an homage to the artists birthplace and a tribute to the islands hardworking countrymen, allowing us an intimate look at this great painters art and life. In Nelli Misirlis Gysis (1996), the most comprehensive account on the artists oeuvre and systematic compilation of his works to date, this painting is the only known work by Gysis bearing a title associated with the island of Tinos, his place of birth.¹
By his early thirties, Gysis was already held in high esteem by his peers and had been awarded by the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. Following a life-changing trip to Greece in 1872, his first after seven years in Germany, he returned to Munich in 1874 full of vibrant images and vivid impressions of his homeland. In Marcel Montandons classic monograph on Gysis, written a year after the artists death in 1901 and based on the artists records (which were destroyed during an air raid in 1944), we read: Now starts the most fruitful period of the artists genre painting; Gysis is in Munich only in body; his thoughts constantly return to the beauty of the Aegean Sea. His brush conveys powerful images of daily life in Athens, Smyrna and Tinos. ² In his Greek Artists, Centennial 1821-1930, Xenofon Sochos makes similar remarks, adding that It was solely Greece that inspired him, thrilled him and turned him into a purely Greek artist. ³
Magnificent and psychologically acute, the portrait of the young islander shows no signs of idealization, its unadorned beauty emanating from within, depending on the honesty of representation, genuineness of character and purity of form. Impeccably painted in warm, earthy colours highlighted by solid outlines and bold brushwork, the work captures the limpid, piercing gaze of the subject, impelling the viewer to delve beyond the surface and seek the inner world of the young Greek. The portraits captivating immediacy and resilient allure is a testament to Gysis power of an imaginative transaction between the subject, the artist and the beholder.
¹ N. Misirli, Gysis [in Greek], Adam, Athens 1996 ² M. Montandon, Nikolaus Gysis, Bielefeld and Leipzig 1902, p. 56b ³ X. Sochos, Greek Artists, Centennial 1821-1930, [in Greek], 1930, pp. 21, 23