The General Athanasios Proufas in 1896 inscribed and titled (upper left) oil on panel 69.5 x 30 cm.
PROVENANCE: Private collection, Athens.
Combining instinctive knowledge with a keen sense of history, Theofilos paid homage to chieftain Athanassios Broufas (1850-1896) from the Macedonian region of Grevena, who in 1878 took part in the uprising of the Mt Olympus villages against the Ottoman Turks. Following that he led a group of revolutionaries in Mt. Vermion and in 1896 he headed to northern Macedonia, where he unsuccessfully engaged stronger Turkish forces, resulting in his capture and subsequent execution.1
Originally either part of a door or store counter decoration possibly in a village tavern or bakery in Mt Pelion, and titled - in the artist's own hand writing- "The General Athanassios Proufas in 1892," this work has a strong autobiographical resonance. The Greek hero is presented as an evzone wearing almost the same highland garb as the painter himself wore when he left Smyrna for Athens to voluntarily enlist to fight in the 1897 conflict against Turkey. Theofilos did indeed take part in the battles of Velestino and Domokos probably wearing his famed fustanella kilt.2
Gallantry is indicated through a set of pictorial and iconographic conventions, an approach to painting rooted in Byzantine and folk tradition, reminiscent of martial saints or descriptions found in demotic songs. The inclusion of the title at the top of the painting, in addition to expressing a longing for knowledge following the Ottoman occupation, denotes a unification of iconographic and linguistic symbols in a uniform and living Greek myth.3
1. See History of the Greek Nation [in Greek], vol. 14, Ekdotiki Athinon publ., Athens 1977, pp. 233-234. 2. See E. Papazachariou, The Other Theofilos [in Greek], Kaktos publ., Athens 1997, p. 126. 3. See H. Kambouridis - G. Levounis, Modern Greek Art, The 20th Century, Ministry of the Aegean, Athens 1999, p. 43.
Please note that due to Greek regulations this painting currently cannot be exported from Greece and will be available fon inspection by prospective buyers at the Athens preview.