Pericles Pantazis (1849/50-1884) Girl knitting/Jeune fille au tricot 51 x 40.5 cm. (20 x 16 in.)

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Lot 32
Pericles Pantazis
(1849/50-1884)
Girl knitting/Jeune fille au tricot 51 x 40.5 cm. (20 x 16 in.)

Sold for £ 43,200 (US$ 61,015) inc. premium
Pericles Pantazis (1849/50-1884)
Girl knitting/Jeune fille au tricot
signed 'Pantazis' (lower right)
oil on canvas
51 x 40.5 cm. (20 x 16 in.)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    P.B.A. Sale of 8/11/43, lot no 59
    Private collection, Athens

    Literature:
    Pericles Pantazis, Evangelos Averoff – Tositsa Foundation, Athens 1994, p. 127 (illustrated), no 295.

    This exquisite painting probably dates from 1876-1878, the most creative and prolific period in Pericles Pantazis’ short career.1 Restless and receptive to new ideas, the artist did no longer confine himself to realistic compositions that recalled the subject matter and sombre palette of Courbet, but ventured into a skilful handling of light in luminous compositions which departed from the strict tenets of institutionalised realism. In the 1878 International Exposition in Paris, in which 29-year old Pantazis participated along with such towering figures of Greek art as N. Gysis and N. Lytras, critics made extensive references to his output, placing him among the avant-garde of European art.2

    In Girl Knitting, Pantazis treats the human form with subtlety, imagination and great finesse, in a harmonious display of sensitive colouring, ease of design and expressive power. His fine brushwork and wise handling of light animate the subject’s youthful facial features, set against a neutral background that further highlights the female form. A luminous scheme has replaced his darker or neutral tonalities, as the painter has started to exploit the effects of light, a technique that will eventually lead him to the luminous landscapes of his later period (see Bonhams The Greek Sale 1/4/2003, lot 24 and 11/5/2004, lot 31). Though the girl is looking down, with her eyes hidden from the viewer, the artist has managed to tenderly convey something of her inner world, as well as express on canvas his own feelings at the time, endowing a genre scene with emotional overtones. “He paints his subjects in a highly personal manner, without resorting to academic recipes or tricks of the trade. His portraiture is generally distinguished by spontaneity and ease of design, unpretentious posing and an ability to delve into the sitter’s inner world.3

    Today, Pantazis ranks among the notable European impressionists and is rightfully considered one of the founding fathers of modern Belgian painting.

    Unfortunately, his premature death in 1884 cut short a highly promising career, depriving the younger generations of Greek artists of a chance to get acquainted at an early stage with innovative trends emerging in Europe. Had he returned to Greece his contribution to “the evolution of modern Greek painting would have been decisive.”4

    1. Based on a combination of dates provided by G. Drakopoulou in Pericles Pantazis in the Context of 19th Century Belgian Painting (dissertation thesis) [in Greek], Athens 1982 and the tentative chronological order of the works illustrated in Pericles Pantazis 1849-1884 [in Greek], Athens 1994
    2. See O. Mentzafou-Polyzou, Pantazis in Greece and S. Samaras, Pericles Pantazis, an Unfulfilled Destiny in Pericles Pantazis, pp. 27, 37
    3. Drakopoulou, p. 55
    4. Frantziskakis, Greek Painters of the Nineteenth Century [in Greek], Athens, 1957, p. 22
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