Monday, January 19, 2015

Konstantinos Volanakis

Collecting the Nets (Fishermen at sea)
oil on canvas
69 × 135 cm
National Gallery of Greece

Konstantinos Volanakis (1837-1907) was a Greek painter, considered one of the best of the 19th century. He was known as the 'bard of the Greek sea'. He was a keen and affectionate observer of nature, whose knowledge of the sea encouraged the fullest expression of his talents.

Born to a wealthy family in Crete, he moved with his family at an early age to the island of Syros where he established himself in the bustling port of the island. There he finished his preliminary studies and in 1856 he moved to Trieste on the coast of Italy where he worked as an accountant at a sugar firm and began painting. He first became interested in marine subjects and his sketches of the harbour and small ships on the sugar firm's ledgers drew the enthusiastic attention of his employer. As a result of that, he was sent, with the financial backing of his family, to the Academy of Arts in Munich.

After his studies he worked in Munich and traveled to Venice and Trieste, cities whose picturesque port and harbour-oriented topography would prove inspirational. It was during his stay in Vienna that he had the opportunity to travel throughout the Mediterranean in the Austrian navy's training ship, which would prove the inspiration for his coastal and full ocean scenes, and the characters that populate his beloved marine panoramas.