CULTURE

Bonhams withdraws ‘Road to Itea’

Celebrated Greek painter Nikos Hadzikyriakos-Ghikas’s «The Road to Itea» has been withdrawn from an upcoming sale by international auction house Bonhams after Athens’s Benaki Museum sent an extrajudicial notice informing Bonhams that this particular work «is one of the stolen and unrecovered works of the painter’s collection that was taken in 1988.» «The Road to Itea» was to be put on the block on May 15 at Bonhams’s 10th Greek Sale in London at an estimated price of 40,000-60,000 pounds, but Bonhams had not been informed until Wednesday of the fact that it was on an official list of stolen articles, as the list had never previously been made available to the auction house. According to the Bonhams representatives in Greece, Art Expertise, the Benaki Museum (part of which is the N. Hadzikyriakos-Ghikas Gallery) had been informed of the upcoming sale of the painting in late January and at the time there had been no question raised concerning its rightful ownership. Interested buyers will not be completely disappointed, however, as Hadzikyriakos-Ghikas’s «Drapery and Plants» remains in the May 15 sale and is expected to go for an estimated price of 30,000-50,000 pounds. The other works participating in the sale come from private collections in Greece and abroad. In total, Bonhams will be putting up for sale 200 selected works either by Greek artists or by other artists inspired by a Greek theme, ranging from all periods of modern Greek art (19th-20th century, as well as contemporary works). Among the works are Nikos Engonopoulos’s «Hero» – which until now has only been seen in public as a sketch – and «The Poet in Verona;» Theofitos Hadzimichail’s «Katsantonis in the Ravine near Pende Pigadia,» which is the largest work (180x273cm) by the artist to ever go on sale; and Spyros Vassiliou’s «Harbor,» which has come from a collection of works previously owned by the late actress Aliki Vouyiouklaki. All the great Greek artists are represented in the sale, while there is also a very interesting collection of Greek-inspired works. Among these is the wonderful «Album of Greek Heroism or The Deliverance of Greece» by Peter Heinrich Lambert von Hess (German, 1792-1871). The album, dated circa 1835, contains 40 tinted lithographed plates by J.B. Kuhn after von Hess of events of Greek heroism during the Greek War of Independence (1820-1829). «View of Constantinople,» another work inspired by a Greek theme, is a pastel on paper, indistinctly signed, but belonging to the Russian School. More Greek art at Sotheby’s Meanwhile, five days earlier, on May 10, Sotheby’s, the other auction giant, will hold the first of two annual auctions of Greek art at its Bond Street premises. Sotheby’s Greek Sale comprises 135 paintings and sculptures, among which are five paintings by Constantinos Maleas, including «Naxos,» «Moab Mountain Range, Lebanon» and «Portrait of an Egyptian.» There are also two paintings by Crete’s Constantinos Volanakis, whose marvelous seascapes showed that he was far ahead of his time in Greece. Considered by many to be the father of Greek 19th century painting, Nikolaos Gyzis is represented in the Sotheby’s auction by «The Orphans,» an oil on panel (49×35.5cm), painted while the artist was at the apex of his career. «While firmly rooted in German romanticism, ‘The Orphans’ superbly illustrates Gyzis’s transcendence beyond his masters’ teachings and the assimilation of other continental trends,» says the Sotheby’s catalog. Yiannis Moralis’s abstract «Figure I» – a fine example of his trademark style finely balanced between geometric forms and curved shapes – is another one of the highlights of the sale, while Yiannis Bouzianis’s «Father and Sons» was painted at the height of the celebrated artist’s Munich period. The painting, according to the catalog, «epitomizes Bouzianis’s preoccupation with color over form, and the expression of feeling over subject.»