Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Two pieces of art painted in the 19th century, by artists who are considered representative exponents of Greek Christmas folklore. They both studied in Munich, and both are representatives of the Munich School and the Academic style of painting, and they were professors at Athens School of Fine Arts.

The famous ''Carols," painted by Nikiforos Lytras (1832 – 1904) is an excellent typical example of a Christmas aspect of life in the Greek countryside and the province of that time: a group of boys, dressed in traditional clothing and carrying traditional instruments, sing carols in the courtyard of a farmhouse. Through the open door- window you can discern a traditionally dressed woman, holding a child in her arms, listening to the young musicians and singers.

The second painting with a Christmas theme, not as famous as the first one, is the work of one his students, Spiridon Vikatos, (1878 - 1960) titled "Christmas tree." It depicts a scene from the life of the Modern Greek bourgeoisie: in the living room of an urban home, the family is sitting next to a Christmas tree. It depicts a different side of Greece of that era, a more European, and westernized, and so different from the provincial context of the first picture. It is worth noting that Spyridon Vicatos, successor of his teacher Lytras at the School of Fine Arts, in his will he left a legacy to the School of Fine Arts for the establishment of ''Vikateios scholarship" to be used by excellent students of fine arts to study abroad and donated 30 of his works to the National Gallery of Greece.