Playtime signed 'G. JAKOBIDES' (lower right) oil on canvas 22 x 28cm
PROVENANCE: Sotheby's Greek sale, London, 17 April 2008, Lot 6; Purchased form the above sale, by the present owner.
Unsurpassed draughtsman and insightful psychologist, Jakobides, this Munich School master, established his reputation as the quintessential painter of young children - kindermaler. The artist has been recognized as such because he managed to look beyond beautified sentimental stereotypes and capture a wide variety of childhood expressions, from whimsical and capricious to absorbed and serious, as in Playtime. Here, his young protagonist, set against a neutral background, rooted in ancient Greek relief sculpture and Byzantine icon painting, is totally wrapped up in the fine art of stuffing his boots with pieces of pretzels or bread rolls!
The child's unaffected posture reflects the naturalistic tendencies of fin-de-siecle German art that persistently sought to faithfully record the world of appearances. Note how the bare foot contributes to the mood of the painting, adding a winsome quality that contradicts the seriousness of his facial expression and the spartan setting. Nonetheless, Jakobides does not deprive his picture of the humoristic and the anecdotal. Despite his mischievousness, the young boy can only engender hilarity and tender feelings, revealing to an adult audience the magic of a child inventing his own playtime universe.
As uniquely put by the great writer Pavlos Nirvanas, "the painters who have managed to capture the miracle of childhood and fix it on a flat surface, as we do with butterflies careful not to disturb a single scale from their colourful wings, are but few. One of them is Jakobides." 1
1. P. Nirvanas, 'The Painter of Children' [in Greek], Pinakothiki journal, 12 (1912-13), pp. 100-101.