Alexandros Alexandrakis (Greek, 1913-1968) Artillery fording a river 111 x 141 cm.
Lot 13AR
Alexandros Alexandrakis
(Greek, 1913-1968)
Artillery fording a river 111 x 141 cm.
Sold for £55,000 (US$ 91,203) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Alexandros Alexandrakis (Greek, 1913-1968)
Artillery fording a river
signed in Greek (lower left)
oil on canvas
111 x 141 cm.

Footnotes

  • Painted in 1943.

    PROVENANCE:
    The artist's family.

    EXHIBITED:
    Athens, 27 Ermou St., 1946.
    Athens, Zappeion Hall, Exhibition of the Military History of the Greeks, April 24 - October 30, 1968 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, vol. 2, p. 548).
    Athens, Athens College Library,
    Athens, National Gallery - A. Soutzos Museum, Alexandros Alexandrakis (1913-1968), October 1980 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, no. 16).
    London, The Hellenic Centre, The War we Fought 1940-41, Paintings and Drawings by A. Alexandrakis, Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the End of the War, May 25 - June 21 1995 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, p. 37).
    Athens, 'Melina' Cultural Centre, Memories of the 1940s, Alexandros Alexandrakis, October 10 - November 11, 2008 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, no. 11, p. 37).

    LITERATURE:
    A. Alexandrakis, The War we Fought, Athens 1968, no. 83 (illustrated).
    Estia newspaper, 27.4.1968 (referred).
    Times Literary Supplement, 29.5.1969 (referred).
    Alexandrakis Drawings, Athens 1970, p. 22 (photo of the artist in front of the painting).
    D. Kokkinos, History of Modern Greece, Melissa editions, Athens 1972, inside cover and p. 1448 (illustrated).
    History of the Greek Nation, Ekdotiki Athinion editions, Athens 1978, p. 439 (illustrated).
    Kathimerini newspaper, Epta Imeres, The 1940 War, 26.10.1997, p. 10 (illustrated).
    A. Bacharian - P. Antaios, Visual Testimonies During the War, the Occupation and the Resistance, Odysseas editions, Athens 1995, p. 42 (illustrated).


    As noted by esteemed historian and member of the Greek Academy Dionysios Kokkinos, "this wonderful painting captures the heroic efforts of the Greek Army to successfully repel the fascist invasion."1 In 1940, the 27-year old painter Alexandros Alexandrakis took part in the Greek-Italian war, serving in the Albanian front and being decorated with the War Cross. A corporal in the artillery, he had to squeeze his artistic work into moments when other men rested, employing mainly pencil, chalk, pen and ink. As the artist himself noted "there were often occasions when I had to work hastily in exceedingly difficult circumstances, using any scrap of paper I could find." When the artist returned from the front he resumed his work in his Athens studio and by 1946 he had translated 17 of these first-impression drawings2 into such elaborate paintings as Artillery fording a river. Note the exquisite handling of the horses taking their place in the action as in old master battle pictures and recalling the magnificent stallions painted by the 19th century master Theodore Géricault.

    As noted by British art historian and critic Terence Mullaly, "Alexandrakis records how men ennoble war. Qualities at the heart of being Greek, courage, endurance, physical and mental dedication, above all the love of the homeland are his central subject. In his work we can sense the icy wind, the thunder of the horses as they bring up the guns. These paintings speak to us of those values forged, treasured and sustained in the beautiful land of Greece."3

    1. D. Kokkinos, History of Modern Greece [in Greek], Melissa editions, Athens 1972, p. 1448.
    2. C. Christou in The 1940 War, Kathimerini newspaper, Epta Imeres, 26.10.1997, p. 10.
    3. The War we Fought 1940-41, Paintings and Drawings by A. Alexandrakis, exhibition catalogue, The Hellenic Centre, London 1995, pp. 8-9.
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