Little girl in the fields signed in Greek (lower right) oil on canvas 27 x 22 cm.
Painted circa 1895.
PROVENANCE: Private collection, Athens.
EXHIBITED: Athens, National Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum, Jakobides Retrospective, 14 November 2005 - 30 January 2006, no 113, p. 218 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue).
LITERATURE: Olga Mentzafou-Polyzou, Jakobides, Adam Publications, Athens 1999, no 175, p. 190 (illustrated).
If the eyes are indeed the mirrors of the soul, then this countrygirl's pretty blue eyes reflect childhood's ageless innocence and unpretentious nature. As noted by Athens National Gallery Director M. Lambraki-Plaka, G. Jakobides, this great 19th century Greek master, was a keen observer of human nature and one of the most sensitive and perceptive painters who delved into childhood's psyche. 1
Balancing purely painterly and purely draftsmanly impulses, Jakobides captures the honest, unpretentious guise of a girl in the fields, who despite her sombre expression, composure and old country decorum wins the viewer over with the truth and genuineness of her inner world. Dated by Dr. O. Mentzafou-Polyzou2 to c. 1895 (the year Jakobides produced his iconic Portrait of the painter's wife and son) this captivating work is surprisingly simple in its presentation yet full of inner strength and dignity. The small outdoor scenes that Jakobides painted in the 1890s mainly for his own pleasure clearly reveal his thorough familiarity with the Barbizon school and especially the painters Charles-Francois Daubigny and Theodore Rousseau. However, his plein-air figures transcend the tenets of the Barbizon school, revealing his exposure to the work of Manet and his grasp of not only the technique but also the ethos of impressionism. 3
As noted by Mentzafou-Polyzou, in the 1890s light acquired a very specific character in Jakobides' work. The intense contrast between shady and bright parts became dominant and the outlines were stressed at the areas where light fell. During this decade he broke away from conventional portraiture and painted figures in the countryside, as mentioned in one of his letters. 4 His paint handling became freer yet confident, coming closer to Max Liebermann's loosened brushwork in the 1890s, a period during which the great German painter developed the style known today as German impressionism. 5
1. See M. Lambraki-Plaka, 'Georgios Jakobides, the Noble of the Munich School' [in Greek] in Georgios Jakobides Retrospective, exhibition catalogue., National Gallery-A. Soutzos Museum, Athens 2005, p. 12. 2. Georgios Jakobides Retrospective, p. 218. 3. See Lambraki-Plaka, p. 13. 4. See O. Mentzafou-Polyzou, Jakobides [in Greek], Adam publ., Athens 1999, p. 184. See also Georgios Jakobides (1853-1932) The Painter of Childhood, 2006 Calendar, National Gallery-A. Soutzos Museum. 5. See German Masters of the Nineteenth Century (exhibition catalogue.), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1981, p. 146.