Nikolaos Lytras (Greek, 1883-1927)
Lady with a rose
Oil on canvas, 116 x 74 cm.
Signed upper right.
Bonhams, The Greek Sale, 18 May 2022, lot 18
Private Collection, Athens
With label from the Panhellenic Art Exhibition of the Greek Artists Association.
Bonham’s The Greek Sale, 18 May 2022, catalogue notes:
Radiating the delicacy and freshness of a newly cut rosebud, this recent find strengthens Lytras’s reputation as a true master in building up form with colour and light. The lively tonal juxtapositions of large, simplified surfaces with their syncopated rhythm, as well as the gestural brushwork that amplifies the impression of a first-hand experience, convey a sense of immediacy and presence, while the pair of expressive blue eyes endows the young sitter’s face with truthfulness and verve.1
Painterly technique, energetic brushwork, intense luminosity, vibrant form and textured surface support the liberation of properties intrinsic to the artist’s medium, asserting the freedom of his pictorial gesture. Around the time he painted this portrait, Lytras co-founded the legendary ‘Omas Techni,’ an anti-academic art group, which infused the forces of renewal in Greek painting with a fresh and vital impetus and had a major impact on the 1930s generation. As noted by Athens National Gallery Director M. Lambraki-Plaka, “Nikolaos Lytras was a painter committed to the truth of vision, a revolutionary who reinvigorated Greek painting and left a rich legacy of works full of vitality and inner truth that can deservedly stand next to the great masterpieces of early European modernism.”2
1 “In his portraiture, Lytras is mainly interested in rendering the face, and especially the eyes, while the clothes of his sitters are described in a generalised fashion.” H.G. Gotsi, The Painter Nikos Lytras 1883-1927 (doctoral dissertation) [in Greek], Thessaloniki, 1992, p. 62.
2 M. Lambraki-Plaka, introduction to A. Kouria, D. Portolos, Nikos Lytras, Building Form with Colour and Light [in Greek], exhibition catalogue, National Gallery – Alexandros Soutzos Museum & Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive, Athens 2008, p.14.