Nicholaos Gysis (Greek, 1842-1901) The dance of the Muses / Musentanz 46.5 x 78.5 cm.
Lot 10
Nicholaos Gysis (Greek, 1842-1901) The dance of the Muses / Musentanz 46.5 x 78.5 cm.
Sold for £121,250 (US$ 201,061) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Nicholaos Gysis (Greek, 1842-1901)
The dance of the Muses / Musentanz
signed 'N. Gysis' (lower right)
pastel and charcoal on paper
46.5 x 78.5 cm.

Footnotes

  • Painted in 1897.

    PROVENANCE:
    Private collection, Athens.

    EXHIBITED:
    Munich, Glaspalast, 1901, no 133.
    Athens, Exhibition of works by Nicholaos Gysis, Eteria Filotechnon, Iliou Melathron, 1928, no 87.
    Athens, Nikolaos Gysis 1842-1901, The Great Master, National Gallery - A. Soutzos Museum, October 8 - December 10 2001, no. 17 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, fig. 53, p. 83).

    LITERATURE:
    Nelli Missirli, Gysis, Adam Editions, Athens 1996, no 218, p.p. 274-275 and p. 359 (illustrated).
    Yannis Papaioannou, Greek Artists, Nicholaos Gysis, volume A', Melissa Publications, Athens 1974, p. 184, no 34 (illustrated).
    Marinos Kalligas, Nicholaos Gysis, MIET Editions, Athens 1981, p. 104 (referred).
    M. Papanikolaou, Works by 19th C. Greek Artists in the Art Exhibitions of Munich, Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki 1978, p. 339 (referred).
    E. Kazolea, Das Allegorische Werk von Nikolaos Gysis, master's thesis, University of Regensburg, Regensburg 1988, no. 110 (illustrated).

    "Throughout my life I dreamed."
    N. Gysis

    Reading like a piece of Greek mythology eternalised on an archaic red figure vase or the pediment of a classical temple, this mesmerizing work of idealized beauty, pure idea and linear rhythm bears the mark of a great artist who envisioned an imaginary world where all dreams and aspirations could be fulfilled. Drawing from the poetic and inspiring atmosphere of the symbolist era, imbued with grace and harmony and charged with spiritual content, the nine ethereal and feathery muses convey a sense of perpetual movement, marking a nuanced shift from the visible to the invisible and luring the viewer to a transitory state where gravity is negated and the soul elevated to the realm of music.

    "Gysis is interested in capturing rhythm and movement. The dancing to the sounds of the musical notes on the stave underscoring the composition dominates the exquisite Dance of the Muses (1897), in which wispy female entities, drawn with the melodic and flowing lines of Jugendstil, rhythmically perform their dance moves against a crimson-coloured flat background of an undefined space."1 "Gysis's references to the Greek past offer an inexhaustible variety of expressions. Dance of the Muses is a composition of movements captured in white and black lines on a terracotta backdrop, where the grace of the female bodies and the variety of their waving foldings conveys the impression that we stand before a classical frieze. A sequence of musical notes can be discerned at the feet of the central figure."2

    As noted by Dr. N. Misirli, an authority on the artist, "Gysis was particularly drawn to music and poetry and had expressed the wish to become a musician or a poet if he was ever born again. His entire oeuvre is suffused by musical suppleness and poetic impulse, while many of his works were created to the sound of the music played by his children. His relationship with music was established during his childhood, when the sounds of the violin and the lute from local celebrations and feasts reverberated throughout his native island. Consequently, one of his first priorities when he arrived in Munich was to start taking music lessons and, as inferred from his correspondence, he often visited the opera and was fired up by the works of Richard Wagner. As time went by, Gysis increasingly painted and thought listening to the piano, mainly works by Beethoven, whom he considered the ultimate master. During his idealistic reflections he placed music above all other arts. His adulation of music should be seriously considered when one studies his work, because otherwise it is impossible to fully comprehend his harmonious, sensitive, rhythmical lines and lyrical compositions."3 "The melody of lines of a composition developing in a planar fashion also resounds in Dance of the Muses."4

    In his seminal treatise on Gysis, former Athens National Gallery Director M. Kalligas noted that "Dance of the Muses is a typical example of the unique grace and elegance with which Gysis endowed his subjects,"5 while Professor T. Tsatsos argued that "in Gysis's later years his figures become almost transparent, immaterial, like spiritual beings. A few lines against a luminous background and some touches of light against a dark background and a figure emerges. These figures seem like sparse yet strikingly beautiful fragments of a lost civilization."6

    1. M. Katsanaki, The Drawing in Nikolaos Gysis's Work in Nikolaos Gysis 1842-1901, The Great Master, exhibition catalogue [in Greek], National Gallery - A. Soutzos Museum, Athens 2001, p. 110.
    2. Y. Papaioannou, Gysis's Painting in The Greek Painters [in Greek], vol. 1, Melissa editions, Athens 1974, p. 162.
    3. N. Misirli, The Ideological Background of Gysis's Works in Nikolaos Gysis 1842-1901, The Great Master [in Greek], exhibition catalogue, National Gallery - A. Soutzos Museum, Athens 2001, p. 82.
    4. N. Misirli, Gysis [in Greek], Adam editions, Athens 1995, p. 268.
    5. M. Kalligas, Nikolas Gysis [in Greek], National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation, Athens 1981, p. 104.
    6. T. Tsatsos, Design and Colour in Gysis's Work, in About Painting [in Greek], Estia editions, Athens 1970, pp. 47-48.
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £50,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 the Hammer Price
12% from £1,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, check with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveler's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Credit card charges: a surcharge of 2% is applicable when using Mastercard, Visa and overseas debit cards.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Contacts
  1. Olympia Pappa
    Specialist - Greek Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8314
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7434