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Konstantinos Parthenis (1878-1967)
Figure
ink on paper
AGLC 216 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Born in Alexandria, Konstantinos Parthenis, who left an indelible mark on 20th-century Greek art, received his first painting lessons in Egypt, before studying in Vienna (1897-1903). He later lived in Paris (1909-1911) and then moved to Greece, where he joined the ‘Techni’ group of artists (founded in 1917) and became professor at the Athens School of Fine Arts (1929-1947). Historical, mythological, religious and allegorical themes, as well as landscapes, portraits and still-life paintings are his main subjects. Going beyond conservative academic models and introducing types from classical and Byzantine art, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, Symbolism and Jugendstil, he shaped, through his vision of an ideal Greece and the quest for a national identity, a purely personal idiom exemplified by idealism, purity and spirituality.In his Mythology and Religion, the figures, frontal and linear, are arranged in two parallel bands, with minimal use of colour on a canvas that remains largely uncovered. This allegorical composition dates from Parthenis’ final creative period.

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About the artist

After his first painting lessons in Egypt, under the German Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, he went to Vienna, where he studied at the RoyalAcademy of Fine Arts (1897-1903) and at the Conservatory. In 1903 he visited Greece for the first time. From 1909 to 1911 he lived in Paris andlater on Corfu, where he became a member of the ‘Group of Nine’. He acquired Greek citizenship and settled in Greece, becoming a memberof the ‘Techni’ group of artists (1917). He held a retrospective exhibition at the Zappeion Hall and received the Greek National Award forExcellence in the Arts and Letters (1920); he also garnered a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris (1937). In the following year heheld a retrospective at the Venice Biennale. After an unsuccessful attempt in 1923 at the post, in 1929 he became a professor at the Schoolof Fine Arts; he resigned in 1947 and became reclusive in his home. In his absence, he was awarded the Commander of King George I (1954)and the Gold Commander of the Phoenix (1965).   One of the founding fathers of 20th-century Greek painting and the teacher of many younger artists, he shaped, through the vision ofan ideal Greece and the demand to determine a national identity, a purely personal idiom, marked by purity and spirituality. Historical,mythological, allegorical and religious themes, alongside landscapes, portraits and still-life paintings, make up the body of his work, inwhich he used types of ancient and Byzantine art, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, Symbolism and Jugendstil.

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