Saturday, January 17, 2015

Nikiphoros Lytras

oil on canvas
90 × 59 cm
private collection

Nikiphoros Lytras (1832-1904) was a nineteenth-century Greek painter. He was one of the most famous painters in Athens. Also as he was the official portraitist in Athens and he painted many high class members of his times. He remained faithful to the precepts and principles of the academaism of Munich, while paying greatest attention both to ethnographic themes and portraiture.

He was born in Pyrgos on the Greek island of Tinos, the son of a popular marble sculptor. At the age of 18, he went to Athens to train at the School of Arts. With his graduation in 1856 he started teaching there the course of elementary writing. In 1856 with a Greek government’s scholarship he went to Munich to study in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. In 1862 after King Otto was exiled the scholarship was no longer available to him.

With his return in Athens he became professor in the Athens School of Fine Arts in the department of Painting and he taught there for 38 years. In Greece he started to paint portraits and every day life scenes. His paintings about every day life correspond in the ideology of the ruling class of the times. His trips in Minor Asia and Egypt enriched his paintings with dark skinned children and other elements of Anatolia. The last period of his life, he painted many scenes about aging, loneliness and the fear of death.

His son Nicolaos Lytras followed in his footsteps by also studying at the Munich academy of Fine Arts and also heading the Athens School of Art. He died at the age of 72 in 1904, after a short illness that is believed to have been caused by colours’ chemicals substances. After his death Georgios Jakobides took his place in Athens School of Fine Arts.