The oeuvre of Gyzis is rich and complex in the variety of its subject
matter. His principal interest was always man in the setting of his
ordinary environment, but he was also drawn to depictions of human
figures in idealized settings.
Alhough the artist’s genre paintings are similar in subject
matter and in the rendering of the figures to the works of other
artists of the 19th century, his work is enriched by the addition of
Greek and oriental motifs.
The central motif of his genre paintings is the life of the family in
all its many facets. He was not interested so much in rendering the
harmonious existence of a happy family, as in depending particular events,
sometimes humorous, festive or even tragic.
The artist dedicated himself in particular to rendering the world of
the child. It was here that he succeeded best in rendering the whole
emotional range. He painted children of all ages, from infants to adolescents.
There are small number of works in which the artist depicts society’s
less respectable members in a leading role. In these instances Gysis
is not so much interested in the situation of the central figure, as
in achieving a composition of different characters around the protagonist
in some particular place, and in depicting the scene in colors vivid
Another subject in which the artist turned to with comparative rarity
in some of his Greek genre painting was that of the Turkish occupation
In a attempt to introduce ancient Greek subjects into genre painting
he planned a number of mythological compositions, but only in a few
cases did these come to fruition of completed works.
Allegorical subjects also dominate in Gysis’ compositions for
posters, diplomas, medals and magazine frontispieces. Here too the majority
are female figures, usually represented as seated and surrounded by
children. The best known of these are History, Harmony, Fame etc.
In the various phases of the subject “ Foundation of faith/ triumph
of Religion”, Good is represented by an angel and Evil, if not
symbolized by a snake, is represented by a powerful male figure, always
moving in a such a way that its face remains invisible but its shoulder
and back muscles are conspicuous.
Music plays an important role in the work of Gyzis. In a letter to
Nikolaos Nazos on 7th April 1875 he writes: “ How poor a thing is the painter
compared to the poet! Ig I could be born again I should be a poet and
musician” (Correspondence 1953, p. 35)
BRIEF BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
1842- Birth of Nikolaos Gyzis in Sklavochori, Tinos, son of Onoufrio
and Margarita, the nee of Psalti.
1850- Change of residence to Athens. Gyzis attends classes at the Polytechnic
School, without officially registering as a student.
1854/1864- Studies at the School of Arts.
1865- Scholarship from the Holy Foundation of the Evangelist of Tinos
to study in Munich, secured by the efforts of Nikolaos Nazos. Arrival
in Munich, registration at the Academy of fine Arts.
1872/74- First visit to Greece after studies in Munich. Construction of
studio at father’s home in Athens.
1873- Summer Educational trip to Asia Minor with Nikiphoros Lytras.
1874- Return to Munich
1876- Engagement to Artemis Nazos.
1877- Wedding to Artemis Nazos.
1879- Birth of his daughter Penelope. Participation in 2nd International
Artistic Exhibition at the Glaspalast.
1880- Honorary membership of Munich Academy of Fine Arts.
1881- Birth of Daughter Margarita. First participation in Greek exhibition.
1882- Participation in Exhibition in Vienna. Participation in Exhibition
in Nuremberg. Assistant Professor at Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.
1883- Membership of Committee of International Exhibition at Glaspalast
and participation in exhibition.
1884- Birth of son Telemachos.
1887- Participation in exhibition in Vienna.
1888- Participation in 3rd International Artistic exhibition at Glaspalast
and design of the exhibitons' poster. Regular Professorship at Munich
Academy of Fine Arts. Participation in 4th Olympia at Zappeion.
1889- Participation in exhibition at Zappeion.
1890- Birth of daughter Iphigeneia. Participation in 2nd Annual Exhibition
1901- Death of Nikolaos Gyzis. Exhibition of Gyzis'works.