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Nikolaos Lytras (Greek, 1883-1927)
signed with initials (lower left)
oil on paper
11.5 x 63.5 cm.
Painted before 1916.
Private collection, Athens.
Athens, National Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum, Nikos Lytras Retrospective, 19 March - 2 June 2008.
Afroditi Kouria, Dimitris Portolos, Nikos Lytras, National Gallery and ELIA Edition, Athens 2008, no 49, p. 207 (illustrated).
This frieze-like work representing the Resurrection of Christ is unique in the oeuvre of Nikolaos Lytras.1 The central figure is Christ risen triumphantly among angels, two of which attend him on the right and left, while others herald the miracle of the Resurrection to the faithful. Of particular interest is the couple standing on the left - the woman in traditional Greek costume and the man wearing a red fez, recalling 19th century images of the Greek War of Independence and drawing a parallel between the resurrected Christ and Greece's efforts to restore her former glory.
Equally noteworthy is the effective blending of western religious iconography with Greek Orthodox tradition, as highlighted by the imposing, semi-clad figure of Christ with raised arms set against the emblematic gold ground of Byzantine icon painting. The shimmering backdrop as well as the diversity of figures may also be related to Jugendstil influences. 2 Compare Gustave Klimt's Beethoven Frieze painted in 1902, now on permanent display in the Vienna Secession Building.
1. See A. Kouria, D. Portolos, Nikos Lytras, Building Form with Colour and Light [in Greek], exhibition catalogue, National Gallery-A. Soutzos Museum & The Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive, Athens 2008, p. 168.
2. See H.G. Gotsi, The Painter Nikos Lytras 1883-1927 (graduate thesis) [in Greek], Thessaloniki, 1992, pp. 110-111.