Theofilos Hadjimichael (Greek, 1871-1934) Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty 62 x 41 cm.

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Lot 7
Theofilos Hadjimichael
(Greek, 1871-1934)
Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty 62 x 41 cm.

£ 18,000 - 25,000
US$ 25,000 - 34,000

Greek Sale

10 Apr 2017, 14:00 BST

London, New Bond Street

Theofilos Hadjimichael (Greek, 1871-1934)
Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty
inscribed with title (upper right)
natural pigments on canvas laid on board
62 x 41 cm.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Y. Michailidis collection, Mytilene, Greece.

    Exhibited
    Mytilene, Tourist Pavilion, The Painter Theofilos on Mytilene, October 7-30, 1962, no. 24 (listed in the exhibition catalogue).

    Literature
    Theofilos, Commercial Bank of Greece edition, Athens 1966, no. 195 (illustrated).
    G. Petris, The Painter Theofilos, Exandas editions, Athens 1978, p. 43 (referred).
    Epopteia magazine, no. 41, December 1979, p. 997 (illustrated).


    Ancient Greek mythological subjects comprise a significant subset of Theofilos' iconography. As noted by G. Petris, a prominent scholar of Greek folk art, "Theofilos had a clear preference for the ancient gods, not as part of elaborate compositions but as single figures."1 Here, Aphrodite (Venus), the Goddess of Beauty as inscribed at the top of the painting, is portrayed riding a sea turtle, which functions as a pedestal, accompanied by white doves against an azure sky and a turquoise sea. In ancient Greece, Aphrodite Anadyomene (sea-born) was supposed to grant a calm sea and a prosperous voyage, and was worshipped by fishermen and sailors. Both in the East and in Greece the affectionate white doves—the birds of love—were sacred to her and a team of them pulled her chariot.2 Images of Aphrodite and her sacred doves are found in archaic statuary as well as in early Renaissance paintings. Aphrodite Urania (heavenly) was associated with chelone, more probably a sea turtle than a tortoise since the goddess was born of the sea. Pausanias describes a chryselephantine statue of her by Phidias portraying her resting one foot on a turtle, while according to Plutarch, Aphrodite and the turtle were associated with marriage and fertility.3

    Besides drawing from the vast storehouse of ancient Greece, Theofilos is perfectly at home with the rich tradition of Byzantium. His female figure emulates purely Byzantine models, such as egg-shaped faces, well-delineated features and frontal approach. Moreover, the inclusion of the title at the top of the painting, in addition to expressing a longing for knowledge following the Ottoman occupation, denotes a unification of iconographic and linguistic symbols in a uniform and living Greek myth.4 Ingeniously combining a vibrant palette and a lively and confident brushwork with a deep sense Greekness through the ages, Theofilos became a point of reference for the Greek intellectuals of the 20th century. "His roots go way back to the ancient Aegean and it is this heritage that makes him paint in a distinctly Greek manner."5

    1. G. Petris, The Painter Theofilos [in Greek], Athens 1978, pp. 42-43.
    2. See The Gods of Olympos, T. Fisher Unwin, London 1892, p. 96.
    3. See S.B. Pomeroy, Women in Hellenistic Egypt, from Alexander to Cleopatra, Wayne State University Press, Detroit 1984, pp. 33-34.
    4. H. Kambouridis - G. Levounis, Modern Greek Art, The 20th Century, Athens 1999, p. 43
    5. A. Xydis, Proposals for the History of Modern Greek Art [in Greek], vol. 1, Athens 1976, p. 36-38.



    Please note that due to Greek regulation, this lot cannot be exported from Greece and will be available for viewing and inspection in Athens either by appointment or during the Athens Preview, 28-30 March 2017. This work will be located in Athens during the auction.
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