Portrait, after the Old Master, in profile of an elderly man
Oil on canvas
17 by 13 inches; 43.2 by 33 cm
signed ‘N. Gysis’ (lower right)
Bought directly from the Artist
By descent, Family in Greece
Nicolas Gysis was perhaps one of the most important 19th century painters to come from Greece. He went on to become one of the primary proponents of the Munich School. Born on the island of Tinos, Nicolas Gysis was one of six children born to the carpenter Onoufrious and Margaret Gysis. The family moved to Athens when Nicolas was eight years old. He had always displayed a talent for art, and soon began attending classes at the School of Fine Arts in the city in 1854. He remained there for the next decade, and also learnt carpentry from his father. Nicolas’s talent blossomed at the school, and he was soon awarded the annual prize for a woodcut of a stork. His work came to the attention of the wealthy art aficionado Nicolas Nazos, who helped the young student obtain a scholarship to study in Munich at the end of his studies. Gysis arrived in Munich in the summer of 1865. Soon after, he made the acquaintance of Nikiforos Lytras, the Greek artist who was to become his mentor, teacher, and lifelong friend. Lytras helped the young artist adjust to life in Germany, and also introduced him to people in the art world. He attended the Royal Academy of the Fine Arts where his teachers were Hermann Anschutz and Alexander Wagner. He later studied with Karl von Piloty. Gysis graduated from the Academy in 1971, and the following year decided to return home. After his arrival in Athens, Gysis set up his studio in the city. He travelled to Asia Minor with Lytras in 1873. However, he didn’t agree with the political climate of Greece at the time, and in 1874 he left Athens permanently to set up home in Munich. He married Diane Nazou in 1877 and the couple was to have four children together. Meanwhile, his career was going well, and he soon managed to reacclimatize to the German art scene. A few years later in 1880, he was made a member of the Academy in Munich. It was at about this time that he received the important commission to paint the ceiling of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Kaiserlautern. Gysis visited Greece regularly through his life. He was made a Professor at the Academy in 1888. His work at around this time began taking a stylistic turn towards the Impressionistic. By the middle of the 1890s, Gysis subjects became more and more religious, one example being “Behold the Bridegroom,” from 1900.