Konstantinos Volanakis Biography | Oil Paintings
8-1837 Heraklion, GRE - 6-29-1907 Piraeus, GREBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Konstantinos Volanakis urged on by his brothers, went to the port city of Trieste in Italy and became an accountant for a family of Greek merchants who was related to his family by marriage. He used to make sketches of ships and the harbor in his account book, the family recognized his artistic ability and thought he would be better suited as an artist than as an accountant, so they made arrangements for him to study art. They sent him off to Munich to study at the Academy of Fine Arts under Karl von Piloty, there Konstantinos Volanakis met other Greek students that included Nikolaos Gyzis, Georgios Jakobides, Nikiphoros Lytras and Polychronis Lembesis. His painting instructors discouraged him from any sort of landscape or seascape painting because it was in decline, so he concentrated on portraits, which he did not like to do.
His big break came in 1869, three years after the Naval Battle at Lissa when Emperor Franz Joseph held a drawing competition to memorialize the event. Konstantinos Volanakis won the contest, receiving 1000 gold Florins and free travel cruises with the Austrian Navy for three years. He took full advantage of this, producing many paintings in his travels. After nine years living in Germany, Volanakis wanted to return to Greece because of pressure from his wife, whose health was suffering from the cold winters in Germany. Despite warnings from his friend Gyzis, a student he had met while in Munich, that it would ruin his career, he returned to Greece and settled in Piraeus, where his family had a pottery factory.
From that point until 1903, Konstantinos Volanakis was a teacher at the Athens School of Fine Arts, where one of his best-known students was Michalis Oikonomou. He also operated his own private school on the side. In 1889, he was awarded the Silver Cross of the Order of the Redeemer. In his later years, he was very poor, due to his very large family and declining interest in his artwork. To increase his income, he reversed the usual method of painting first, then framing, by working with a group of picture framers who would make luxurious carved frames first, then creating paintings to fit them.
Art Movement: Romanticism
Artists Influencing Volanakis: Karl von Piloty
He Traveled To Italy, Germany, Austria
Painters Konstantinos Volanakis Influenced: Michalis Oikonomou