Nikolaos Lytras (Greek, 1883-1927) St. Marcos Church, Tinos island  54 x 73 cm.
Lot 20
Nikolaos Lytras
(Greek, 1883-1927)
St. Marcos Church, Tinos island 54 x 73 cm.
Sold for £112,500 (US$ 150,301) inc. premium

The Greek Sale

15 Nov 2017, 14:00 GMT

London, New Bond Street

Lot Details
Nikolaos Lytras (Greek, 1883-1927)
St. Marcos Church, Tinos island
signed in Greek (upper left)
oil on canvas
54 x 73 cm.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Georgios Stringos collection, Piraeus.
    Private collection, Athens.

    Exhibited
    Athens, Zappeion Hall, Panhellenic Art Exhibition of the Greek Artists Association, 1926, no. 126.
    Athens, Zappeion Hall, Exhibition of Works by Nikolaos N. Lytras 1902-1927, 1929, no. 67 or 78 (listed and illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, pp. 5, 12).
    Venice, XIV Biennale Internationale d'Arte, 1936, Greek Pavillion, no. 102 (listed in the general exhibition catalogue, p. 283) (possibly).

    Literature
    Pyrsos Encyclopaedia, Athens 1926, vol. 16, p. 378, (referred).
    Eleftheroudakis Encyclopaedic Dictionary, Athens 1927, vol. 5, p. 382 (illustrated).
    Eleftheron Vima daily, 18.4.1929 (discussed).
    Clipping of newspaper art review signed 'Fil', c.1929, Nikolaos Lytras file, Athens National Gallery Archive (discussed).
    Newspaper clipping, c.1930s (illustrated).
    Domi Encyclopaedia, Athens 1970, vol. 9, p. 450 (listed).
    T. Spiteris, Three Centuries of Modern Greek Art 1660-1967, Athens 1979, vol. 3, p. 166 (listed).
    H.G. Gotsi, The Painter Nikos Lytras 1883-1927 (graduate thesis), Thessaloniki 1992, p. 55 (discussed), no. 47 (illustrated).
    A. Kouria, D. Portolos, Nikos Lytras, Building Form with Colour and Light, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery - A. Soutzos Museum & Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive, Athens 2008, no. 106, pp. 116-117 (discussed), p. 302 (listed), pp. 116, 150 (illustrated).


    Reviewing Lytras's major posthumous retrospective in 1929, writer and critic Zacharias Papantoniou noted: "I believe that the dark tone Lytras used as a backdrop for the dazzling whiteness of St. Markos church is unique among all orientalists,"1 while author, poet and critic I.M. Panayotopoulos ranked St. Marcos Church, Tinos island among the painter's best works.2

    In the summer of 1923 Lytras visited Tinos, the native island of his father, the great 19th c. painter Nikiforos Lytras. The island's intricate shoreline became a source of inspiration for the artist, who produced a number of exquisite landscapes. "His fatherland, with its sparse, jugged terrain and sculptural quality of both its natural environment and traditional Cycladic architecture, offered Lytras many pictorial challenges inspired by the stark juxtapositions that engender powerful visual impressions. It should be noted that in all of his Tinos paintings, Lytras consistently avoids general or panoramic views of the island's village complexes. Usually, only some scattered houses, identified by their solid, cubelike volumes, are juxtaposed with the wavy lines and flowing rhythms of the natural environment. His search for such powerfully expressive juxtapositions possibly gave birth to his two pictures of the St. Markos church,3 both included in the painter's 1929 retrospective."4 However, only the one offered in the upcoming sale was illustrated in the exhibition catalogue—one of just six illustrations (out of 286 works) included.

    Like a freshly painted caique ready to sail the cobalt blue sea, the dazzling church captures the power, brilliance and mythical allure of the Cycladic archipelago, while demonstrating Lytras's interpretative approach to nature. Energetic brushwork, vibrant form and textured surface support the liberation of properties intrinsic to his medium, asserting the freedom of the artist's pictorial gesture.

    1. Eleftheron Vima daily, 18.4.1929.
    2. I.M.P(anayotopoulos), Pyrsos Encyclopaedia [in Greek], Athens 1926, vol. 16, p. 378.
    3. The other painting with the same title, which shows a lot of similarities, including almost the same vantage point and overall handling of form, was auctioned by Bonhams (Greek Sale, 18.5.2010, lot 23).
    4. A. Kouria, D. Portolos, Nikos Lytras, Building Form with Colour and Light [in Greek], National Gallery-A. Soutzos Museum & Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive, Athens 2008, pp. 115-117.
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