Theofilos Hadjimichael (Greek, 1871-1934) Markos Botsaris, The battle of Kefalovrysso in Karpenissi  70 x 89 cm.

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Lot 24
Theofilos Hadjimichael
(Greek, 1871-1934)
Markos Botsaris, The battle of Kefalovrysso in Karpenissi 70 x 89 cm.

Sold for £ 50,000 (US$ 62,507) inc. premium
Theofilos Hadjimichael (Greek, 1871-1934)
Markos Botsaris, The battle of Kefalovrysso in Karpenissi
inscribed in Greek (upper part)
natural pigments on canvas
70 x 89 cm.

Footnotes

  • Painted in the early 20th century.

    Provenance
    Constantinos Koumbas collection, Mytilene.
    Inherited from the above by the present owner.

    Literature
    M. Moschou, On Theofilos Hadjimichael's Biography, doctoral dissertation, Athens 2005, vol. 3, III.8, pp. 39-40 (referred), fig. 8b (illustrated).
    A.Hadjiyannaki, Theofilos, K. Adam editions, Athens 2007, p. 4 (illustrated).


    At midnight, in his guarded tent,
    The Turk was dreaming of the hour
    When Greece, her knee in suppliance bent,
    Should tremble at his power.
    At midnight, in the forest shades,
    Bozzaris ranged his Suliote band,—
    True as the steel of their tried blades,
    Heroes in heart and hand.


    "Marco Bozzaris" by Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790-1867)

    A celebrated hero of the Greek War of Independence who distinguished himself by his courage, resolve, wit and skill as a partisan leader in western Greece, the Souliote Markos Botsaris is a recurrent subject in Theofilos's iconography throughout his artistic career. As noted by the prominent historian C. Paparrigopoulos, "Markos Botsaris was one of the bravest and most honest Greek chieftains. None was his equal when it came to dedication and bravery. His virtuousness was reflected by his facial features, while his goodness was evident in his manners and words."1

    In 1823, the Turks' western campaign achieved little success. An advance detachment from the army of Omer Vryonis, numbering almost five thousand men under the command of Mustai Pasha, marched south to the town of Karpenissi without meeting any resistance from the Greeks. But, on the night of August 21, Botsaris with a handful of Souliotes surprised the Ottomans and made straight for the tent of the Pasha, which was pitched in an enclosure. The Turks suffered heavy losses and it seemed a great victory would be won, but fate took a hand. Botsaris was shot and died instantly at the moment of victory. The Souliotes withdrew immediately, carrying away the body of their revered leader, and the Turks escaped total destruction. Two days later, the body of Botsaris was buried in Missolonghi with the honours due to a national hero. In Europe the news of his death saddened the growing numbers of those supporting the Greek cause.2

    In this captivating picture, Botsaris is shown standing triumphant before the Pasha's tent, holding a yataghan in his right hand. Theofilos used the same iconographical type as in his single-figure compositions of the hero, the difference being that instead of raising the banner of the Greek Revolution, Botsaris is here using the exact same gesture to lift the tent's flap and strike the surprised Pasha, who is still reclining in the midst of a raging battle. In other words, although incorporated in a multi-figure composition, the hero retains his single-figure iconographical type. He stands upright and looks magnificent and invulnerable at the height of his glory, while death is lurking in the shape of a black Saracen on the right who, according to legend, mortally wounded the hero. What the Greeks admired about Botsaris is that he died a triumphant, heroic death—and that's exactly what Theofilos portrayed in this powerful composition.3

    1. See C. Paparrigopoulos, History of the Greek Nation [in Greek], vol. XIΙ, Athens 1925, p. 130.
    2. See P. Paroulakis, The Greek War of Independence, Hellenic International Press, Darwin, 2000, p. 99; J. Braddock, The Greek Phoenix, Coward, McCann & Geoghegan editions, New York 1973, p. 126; S. Minta, On a Voiceless Shore, Byron in Greece, Marion Wood editions, New York, 1998, p. 226.
    3. See E. Mykoniatis, The 1821 Revolution in Painting [in Greek], doctoral dissertation, Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, 1979, p. 50; G. Petris, The Painter Theofilos [in Greek], Exandas editions, Athens 1978, p. 47-48.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that due to Greek regulation, this lot cannot be exported from Greece and will be available for viewing and inspection during the Athens Preview, 6-8 November 2018. This painting will be located in our Athens office during the auction.
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