Greek Artists Illustrating Boys' Fashions

Figure 1.--Georgios Iakovides painted this portrait of his wife and son in 1895. Note the boy's extremly short hair. It is no possdoble to make out much detail in his outfit, but note his large broad-brimmed sailor hat.

HBC is less familar with Greek art than that of some other European countries. While Greece is the fountainhead of Western artistic tradition, the country did not participate in the great reawakening Western art inspired by the Renaissance as Just when the Renaissance was blooming in Italy, the Ottomans seized Greece and the Balkans. Thus until the early-19th century they were under Ottoman control. This inforced restrictive Islamic standards on art. After Independence in the 1820s, Greece has rentered the stream of Western art including painting. As a poor country, however, Greek art was a minor part of the Western art. HBC readers have provided information on a number of important Greek artists that have provided imaages of Greek boys and their clothing over time. We are just beginning to research these artists.

Greek Art


The pictorial deictations on Greek vases are some of the most recogniazable images from the ancient world. The beautiful religious paintings and mosacis creation Byzantium are also major contributions to world art. Modern Greek painting traces its roots to the ╔´nian islands. Here painters began shifting from egg tempera on wood and began to use oil on canvas as well as adopted the style and themes of Western art. There was a particular interest in portraiture on the Ionian islands, but other subjects like landscape, genre, and historical themes also appeared.

Ottoman rule

The Ottomans seized Constantinople in the 1453 and Greece became a province in the Empire. Thus while art flourished in the Renaissance. the development of Western art was limited, however, by Ottoman rule and Islamic prohibitions on portraiture. Thus institutions designed to train and promote art in the Western style were not possible.


Grrece achieved its independence in the 1820s with western assistance. The Greeks attempted to institute a Republic, but the great powers of the day insisted on a monarchy. With the creation of independent national institutions, western art could agin be freely taught and pesued. Both Greek and foreign artists taught at the new Athens School of Fine Arts.

Munich School

Many early Greek painters persued postgraduate work in Munich. I am not entirely sure why Greek arists deciced to persue academic work in Munich rather than Paris, but surely the fact Greece's first modern king, Otto I, was Bavarian had an influence. After centuries of Ottoman rule, few opportunities existed in Greece itself immediately after independence, so study abroad was imperative for aspiring artists. At any rate a range of academic and personal bonds developed between early Greek painters and Munich giving rise to the Greek "Munich School" of painting. This early period in Greek is dominated by German academism resulting from the influence of the Academy of Munich which many Greek artists attended. They were thus influenced by Acafemy's conservative traditions of perfect technical execution and the realistic rendering of the subjects. Many of these Munich School artists were interested in genre painting, illustrating everyday Greek life, local customs, and living conditions. Severl important painters emerge at this time. Theodoros Vryzakis specialized in historical painting and was especially inspired by the 1821 Greek War of Independence. Nikiphoros Lytras concentrated on realistic depictions of Greek life. Nikolaos Gyzis painted a wide variety of works. Georgios Iakovides devoted his attention to infants and children. Constantinos Volanakis who mesemerized by the Greek sea.

Paris School

Not all Greek artists turned to Germany. Some Greek painters also studied in Paris. They followed the strict guidelines of the Academy, but managed to give their own unique Greek artisical insights. Iakovos Rizos was noted for his depictions of female beauty. Theodoros Rallis created memorable scenes from the Orthodox East. Nikolaos Xydias craeted a range of portraits, still life and genre works. It was at this time that the impressionist movement developed in Paris. Few Greek painters, however, participted. Most preferred the well-established convevntions of the Academy. The one principal exception was Pericles Pantazis who moved to Belgium and participated in the avant-garde movement there.

20th century

Gradually the imprressionists and other modern schools increased in influenced. Greek artists turned from Munich to Paris. In the early 20th century, many Greek artists focused on landscape painting and painters wrested with issue of how to handle light and color. Constantinos Parthenis and Constantinos Maleas were two Greek artists much influenced by the French. Nikolaos Lytras was the last important Greek artists to be associated with the Munich School, but he was primarily involved with modern artists. Munich atists were very active with modern art in the early 20th century. The coming of the NAZIs in the 1930s, however, meant an end to modern art in Germany as Hitler hated it and considered it degenerate. Interestingly, Hitler as a young artist painted hundreds of works, most without people and the few people he did include were poorly drawn and out of proportion.

Generation of the '30s

The next great mivement in Greek art was the "Generation of the '30s". These artists combineed avant-garde ideas with Greek traditions. Some of te principal participants were: Yannis Tsarouchis, Yannis Moralis and Nikos Chatzikyriakos-Ghikas. One especially important artist at this time, Spyros Papaloukas, remained apart and developed his own unique ideas on how to best depict the Greek countryside.

Contemporary art

Greek artists in contemprary times has partriciated in the modern movements affecting painting in Europe and the United States, but adding America while adding their own unique Greek contribytions. Some important artists are Giannis Sypiropulos, Panagiotis Tetsis and Dimitris Mytaras.

Individual Greek Artists

HBC has found information on several modern Greek artists that have painted works with children showing boys' fashions over a wide range of time beginning in the mid-19th century. Many of the earliest Greek painters were haevily influenced by German art.

Ektor Doukas (1885-1969)

This portrait entited "Family Moment" is undated. It is difficult to date, but was probabaly painted around 1950. Note that the boy appears to be wearing a blue school smock with white collar. Healso wears closed-toe sandals without socks. The boy and his sister are reading while their grandmother in traditional garb knits with a cat purring on her lap. We have been unable to fnd any biographical information about this artist.

Thalia Flora-Karavia (1871-1960)

Thalia Flora-Karavia was a leading woman painter in Greece. One of her important works is "A Boy Reading", date unknown. A HBC reader believes it was probably painted in the 1920s. HBC would probaly date it about 1910. The boy is wearing a white or light colored sailor suit with bloomer above the knee pants and a wide-brimmed sailor hat.

Nikolas Gyzis (1842-1901)

Nikolaos Gyzis was born in 1842 at the island of Tinos. He attended the Athenian School of Arts during the period 1854-1864. His teachers were Margaritis, Ceccoli, and Thiersch. In 1864, Lytras introduced him to Nikolaos Nazos. In 1865, Gyzis with Nazos' help obtained a scholarship from the monastery of Virgin Mary in Tinos, and he left for Munich. Gyzis, once in Munich, got acquainted with the neoclassical works of sculpture, as well as with the paintings of the Dutch masters, including Rembrant, existing in the town's museum and Old Gallery. Gyzis' sojourn in Greece did not last long; In 1874, Gyzis returned to Munich, this time for good. His only luggage were his memories from Greece, memories that will accompany and haunt him for the rest of his life. One of his first paintings in Munich is Engagements. It depicts the custom of engaging boys and girls at a very young age. From 1886 onwards, Gyzis moved from genre to idealism. Gyzis was a deeply religious man. Near the end of his life he turned to religious paintings. Gyzis never managed to compromise with the idea of Greece being unable to satisfy his spiritual and artistic needs. He never actually stopped feeling as a "prodigal son". Gyzis died in January 1901 of leukemia. Munich honoured his memory with an exhibition comprising his major works.

Georgios Iakovides (1835-1932)

Georgios Iakovides was one of the masters of Greek painting during the late 19th-early 20th century. He was a member of the "Munich School" and incorporated elements of impressionism in his paintings. Almost all his paintings have children (mostly boys) and infants as subjects. One example is a portrait of the artist's wife and son (1895) seeen here. The two are dressed in black. Perhaps the family is in mourning. The Greeks do not appaer to have believed in long hair for boys. Note the extremly short, almost shaved hair of Iakovides' son. Compare this with Renoir paintings of his sons at about the same time. The boy's clothing, however, seems more in line woth the European fashions of the day. It is not possible to make out much detail in the boy's outfit, but note his large broad-brimmed sailor hat. "The Bad Grandson" (1884) which seems the anthesis of a number of Marie Cassett works. Other notable works include "The First Steps" (c. 1892) and "The Children's Concert" (1900).

K. Giannakˇ (1927-1955)

K. Giannakˇ also painted a well-known work known as the "Children's Concert (c. 1945-1955). It was obviously inspired by the famous painting of Iakovides. The title of the two paintings in Greek is a bit diferrent (paidiki synavlia - paidiko concerto) but in English both translate as Children's concert.

(El) Greco (Greece/Spain, 1541-1614)

El Greco (the Greek) was born on Crete. He is best known for his painting, but he was a sculptor and architect as well. Crete at the time was under Venetian control. While born on Crete, he is more associated with Spain where he settled. He is the first great Spanish artist. His actual name was Domenikos Theotocopoulos. Despite working in Spain, he always in Greek characters, sometimes followed by Kres (Cretan). Other than portraits, most of his paintings has religious themes. We know only a few works in which boys were depicted showing the fashions of the day in Spain.

Polychronis Lembesis (1849-1893)

Lembesis painted "The Tramp Boy" (1880)

Nikiforos Lytras (1832-1904)

Nikiforos Lytras was another important artist of the Munich School. One work by Lytras is "Portrait of a Boy" (1879) shows a boy wearing a traditionally styled sailor suit, undicating that this popular style was fashionable in Greece by the 1870s.

Spyros Papaloukas (1892-1957)

Spyros Papaloukas is one of Greece's great modern artists. His work is heavily influenced by the French impressionists. Some art experts belive that Cezane and Matisse were particularly important to him. Some of his works remind me of Van Gogh. He was also deeply influenced by Greece's Byzantine traditions and did work on icons and other religious themes. One notable portrait is "The Child with the Suspenders" (1925).

Polyklitos Reggas (1903-1984)

Polyklitos Reggas painted the Ioannis Eskiadis family in 1957 providing a view of a pos-World War II Greek family. Note that the two brothers are dressed identical. Greek mothers like mothers in other countries liked to dress children close in age identiclly as this mother has done. One boy holds a toy and the other a book. Probably the boy with the toy who looks younger hasn't started school yet, hense he holds a toy instead of a book. HBC has been unable to find any information on the artist.

Other artists

We have four more paintings. Three of them are associated with the Ottoman rule in Greece. I am a bit sceptical about them. I assume that the painter "invented" the outfits of the boys. The fourth is showing five boys singing the kalanda - carols to a mother who holds a baby. Each boy is wearing a diferent traditional outfit so, again, the scene is imagined. It could never happen. Strange enough "Ta kalanda" is the third Greek painting showing boys playing music in front of a mother with a baby.


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Created: April 27, 2002
Last updated: 4:24 AM 4/25/2016