1842 (March 1): Nikolaos Gyzis (or, in German, Nikolaus Gysis) was born in the village of Sklavochori, on the island of Tinos, in Greece.
1854: Gyzis started studying at the School of Arts in Athens, where he had among his teachers German Nazarene painter Ludwig Thiersch.
1862: Gyzis was awarded a scholarship from the Evangelistria Foundation of Tinos.
1865: Gyzis finally arrived at Munich, where he settled for the rest of his life. In October, he attended the preparatory class of Hermann Anschütz at the Munich Academy.
1868: Gyzis was accepted in the class of Karl von Piloty at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts.
1869: His first religious painting, Joseph in Prison, was donated by Gyzis to the Evangelistria Foundation of Tinos.
1872: After a long residence abroad, Gyzis visited Greece again for the first time.
1873: Gyzis underwent a trip to Anatolia with fellow artist Nikiforos Lytras.
1874: Gyzis returned to Munich and, together with Lytras, rented the apartment that previously served as the studio of German painter and Theosophist Gabriel von Max.
1875: Gyzis became a member of the Art Association “Allotria,” which several important German artists had also joined.
1880: Gyzis was elected honorary member of the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, and two years later he started working there as a teaching assistant.
1884 (July 27): The German Theosophical Society was founded. It held its second meeting in the same year (August 9) at Gabriel von Max’s Ammerland villa.
1888: Gyzis was appointed professor at the Munich Academy.
1893 (August 28): In a letter to his sister-in-law Ourania Nazou, Gyzis declared that he had conceived a new religious idea.
1894: Gyzis began corresponding with Anna May, a friend and classmate of his daughter Penelope.
1898: With Anna May’s help, Gyzis chose some of his sketches in black and white for the exhibition held in the Glaspalast in Munich in the same year.
1900 (July 20): The Annual Exhibition was inaugurated in the Glaspalast; Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh was among Gyzis’s works exhibited.
1901 (January 4): Gyzis died in Munich. A commemorative exhibition took place in the Glaspalast (from June to October) where Gyzis’s works were exhibited beside those of two other recently deceased painters, Arnold Böcklin and Wilhelm Leibl.
1910 (August 25): Rudolf Steiner delivered a lecture on Gyzis to the members of the Theosophical Society in Munich.
1911 (December): Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) published On the Spiritual in Art.
1928: A large exhibition of Gyzis’s works was organized in Athens.
Nikolaos Gyzis (1842-1910) was a prominent Greek painter, much appreciated by his contemporaries for his ability to intertwine in his visual vocabulary elements from the ancient Greek heritage, the Byzantine imagery, and the more recent Jugendstil movement. [Image at right] He spent his entire life in Munich, Germany, initially studying there before becoming a professor at the local Academy of Fine Arts from 1888 until his death in 1901. He is considered the main representative of the so-called Munich School movement, and his work had a great impact on Greek artistic production during the fin de siècle and the beginnings of the twentieth century. Among his students in the Academy were the Austrian printmaker Alfred Kubin (1877-1959), the German graphic artist August Heitmüller (1873-1935), the set designer Ernst Julian Stern (1876-1954), the Romanian painter Ştefan Popescu (1872-1948), and the Polish painter Tadeusz Rychter (1873-1943?), who would eventually become an Anthroposophist. Gyzis’s late work, hovering between academicism and new symbolist tendencies, caused a sensation among his contemporaries, especially in Greece (Katsanaki 2016). After Gyzis’s death in 1901, his late paintings drew the attention of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), at that time a prominent Theosophist and the future founder of Anthroposophy. He admired the fact that the painter, at the meridian of his artistic life, left behind the traditional genre scenes that were typical for a professor in the Academy and moved to a more spiritual style of painting, including strange angelic beings and apocalyptic imagery (Picht 1951:419-21). [Image at right]
Gyzis was born, on March 1, 1842, to an Orthodox family in the village of Sklavochori, on the island of Tinos, which was also a place with a strong Catholic heritage and a large Catholic population. Tinos, an island belonging to the Northern Cyclades group, is very well known for its famous sculptors and painters, but remains also a very important religious center, notably after the discovery in 1823 of the supposedly miraculous icon of the Virgin Panagia in the ruins of an old church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, and the subsequent erection of the Church of Panagia Evangelistria in 1880 (Missirli 2002:339). Since the nineteenth century, Tinos has remained a prominent site of Marian pilgrimage and religious tourism, its importance in Greece being comparable to that of Lourdes for Catholics in France.
Gyzis settled in Athens in 1850 and, by 1854, started his studies at the School of Arts. Among his teachers was the German painter of religious subjects, part of the Nazarene movement, Ludwig Thiersch (1825-1909), who is credited with the introduction of Western elements into the Eastern pictorial tradition. According to Kaiser, Thiersch was preoccupied with the Slavic notion of “Sobornost” (roughly translated as “conciliation” or “community”), and the Church of St. Nikodemos in Athens (the local Russian Orthodox Church), which was decorated by him, manifested this preoccupation (Kaiser 2014). The proponents of “Sobornost” were promoting an understanding of the Church as a place of union between different Christian fractions and, on the other hand, were offering an alternative to unbridled individualism by endorsing a kind of universal love and unrestrained solidarity. Thus, hierarchy and institutionalized religion were often seen under a critical lens. Even after Gyzis moved to Munich, he nevertheless maintained a correspondence with Thiersch, exchanging views with him on various artistic subjects (Kaiser 2014:195).
With the aid of his friend Nikiforos Lytras (1832-1904), also a prominent Greek painter who studied in the Munich Academy, Gyzis became acquainted with the wealthy Tinian businessman Nikolaos Nazos (who later became his father-in-law), who intervened in his behalf with the Evangelistria Foundation, securing the grant of a scholarship (Missirli 2002: 341). The Evangelistria Foundation of Tinos endorsed cultural awareness by awarding scholarships to young talented painters and sculptors, thus giving them the opportunity to receive training in important art centers abroad, to deepen their own cultural ideas and import them back into Greece. After some delay, Gyzis’s scholarship was approved in 1865 and from the port of Syros, through Trieste, Vienna and Salzburg, he finally arrived at Munich, where he settled for the rest of his life. In October of the same year, he attended the preparatory class of Hermann Anschütz (1802-1880) at the Munich Academy and, one year later, he was trained by the Hungarian painter Alexander von Wagner (1838-1919). In 1868, Gyzis was accepted in the class of Karl von Piloty (1826-1886) at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. In 1869, Gyzis bequeathed his first religious painting, Joseph in Prison (1868), to the Evangelistria Foundation (where it still is), as a sign of gratitude for its support. One year later, another religious work, Judith and Holofernes (1869), was completed. The compositional approach as well as the color arrangement of these early works were strongly permeated by the teaching method of von Piloty, one of the most important German representatives of the so-called historical realism (Didaskalou 1999:143).
In 1872, after a long residence abroad, Gyzis visited Greece again for the first time and received high acclaim for his artistic mastery. The following year, Gyzis underwent a trip to Anatolia with Lytras. In 1874, he returned to Munich and, together with Lytras, rented the studio that had belonged to the German painter, and later Theosophist, Gabriel von Max (1840-1915) (Missirli 2002: 346). At the same time, Gyzis began systematically taking part in the annual and international exhibitions at Munich’s Glaspalast.
In 1875, Gyzis became a member of the art association “Allotria,” which many important German artists had also joined (Missirli 2002:347). In 1876, Gyzis got engaged to Nikolaos Nazos’ daughter, Artemis Nazou (1854-1929), whom, in the course of the following year, he married after a cursory trip to Greece. At the same time his reputation as a painter flourished as he began to exhibit his paintings at international venues, such as the Paris World Exhibition of 1878. In 1880, he was elected honorary member of the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, and two years later he started working as a teaching assistant there. In 1888, Gyzis was finally appointed a professor in the Munich Academy, with an annual wage of 4.200 German marks (Didaskalou 1991:150). In 1887, impressed by the international renown the painter had gained in Europe, the Greek government commissioned him to design the banner for the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Gyzis’s career was at its apex when, in 1896, he designed the diploma for the first modern Olympic Games to be held in Athens. According to the painter, the subject depicted in the diploma was the “Annunciation of Greece” [Ευαγγελισμός της Ελλάδος] (Drosinis 1953:210).
As it might be inferred from his correspondence, by the early 1890s onward, Gyzis underwent a kind of religious crisis and became obsessed with grand religious projects (Didaskalou 1993:188). On August 28, 1893, in a letter to his sister-in-law Ourania Nazou, Gyzis declared that he had conceived a new religious idea. In 1894, he began corresponding with Anna May (1864-1954), a friend and classmate of his daughter Penelope (1879-1947). With May’s help, in 1898, Gyzis chose some of his sketches in black and white for the Munich’s Glaspalast Exhibition of the same year. The sketches were considered as products of musical inspiration, and most of them explored religious themes. On July 20, 1900, the Annual Exhibition in the Glaspalast featured several works by Gyzis, including Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh. This and other religious paintings manifested an obsession with spirituality and the ideas of death and judgement. The murky vibe that these paintings impart to the viewer may be partly due to the devastating defeat that the Greeks suffered in what it is known in Greece as the Unfortunate War, fought in 1897 between the Kingdom of Greece and the Ottoman Empire.
The various sketches, studies, and drawings of this period, now preserved in private collections and museums in Greece, reveal that the painter conceived those fragmented visions from an unseen world, as musical variations on a “greater theme,” i.e. the restoration of spirituality. [Image at right] Gyzis wasn’t satisfied with an ordered synthesis but rather was seeking to circumscribe this “greater theme” by working with different artistic media or knitting unforeseen narratives, gradually unwinding the yarn in front of the viewer’s eyes. The sketches and drawings, which often bear the name Triumph of Religion or Foundation of Faith (since 1894), depict austere archangels in a majestic and statuesque-like posture, holding flaming swords and trampling on the ancient serpent, Satan (Didaskalou 1991:124-25) [Image at right]. For Gyzis, the tireless battle he depicted stood for the eternal fight between Spirit and Matter, a subject often discussed in Theosophical circles (Petritakis 2013). Gyzis emphatically pointed towards this idea in his drawing The Victory of Spirit over Matter, intended as the upper part of a larger composition, entitled The New Century (1899-1900), of which various studies and oil drawings are preserved.
However, Gyzis’s most celebrated painting, in this context, was the already mentioned Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh (1899-1900, 2 x 2 m.), which has as its theme the arrival of the Bridegroom (in Greek, Nymphios), a service of the Orthodox Church that symbolizes the preparation for the arrival of the Messiah. [Image at right] In fact, Gyzis particularly drew on a book called Hermeneia (1730-1734) by Dionysius of Fourna (c. 1670 – after 1744), a manual of iconography, which provided a synthetic Gospel account of the life of Jesus Christ. Gyzis sought after this book in a letter dated 1886 (Kalligas 1981:176-88; Drosinis 1953:176-78). The painting depicts Christ, whose figure emerges throughout various rings of fire, which vehemently coil in vorticose motions up to the margins of the picture, where the angelic hosts genuflect (Petritakis 2014). A scene depicting the Fall of Satan was equally conceived to occupy the lower part of the composition (Kalligas 1981).
Gyzis’s religious works demonstrate an accomplished artistic skill and an integrated geometrical expression, especially regarding the use of circular and elliptical forms, which impart an impression of “hidden harmony” (Kalligas 1981:72; Petritakis 2016:89). Marcel Montandon (1875-1940), who published a biography of the painter one year after Gyzis’ death, corroborated the above statement (Montandon 1902:118). Furthermore, the playfully rhythmic, vibrant, but still determined stroke that runs through these works, conveys to the viewer a sense of incompleteness. With his series of drawings made with Indian ink on photographic foil, intended to be seen in front of a light source (a technique invented by Gyzis himself) the painter was hinting at an otherworldly universe, like the one explored by Spiritualist mediums. [Image at right] Similarly, the sketches in black paper with white chalk, that he produced, in 1898, with Anna May’s aid (Drosinis 1953:235), evoke the idea of a juxtaposition between an earthly reality and a spiritual otherness. The latter were bought from the Bavarian Government and are now kept in Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich.
Gyzis died on January 4, 1901 in Munich. His monument was sculpted by the German artist Heinrich Waderé (1865-1950). A monumental, commemorative exhibition took place in Munich’s Glaspalast from June to October 1901. Gyzis’s works were exhibited beside those of two other recently deceased painters, Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901) and Wilhelm Leibl (1844-1900). The Bridegroom as well as sketches from the Triumph of Religion were also on display. Only after twenty-seven years, a major exhibition of Gyzis’s works was organized in Greece, at Iliou Melathron (Heinrich Schliemann’s Mansion) in Athens, organized by the Society of Art Devotees and Gyzis’s son, Telemachus (1884-1964).
An interesting question concerns Gyzis’s relationship with Theosophy, a movement in which several of his friends and associates were deeply interested. Gyzis never joined the German Theosophical Society, nor does it seem likely that he had been aware that Theosophical ideas were circulating in Greece during his lifetime. In fact, the Theosophical Society in Athens was founded much later, in 1928 (Matthiopoulos 2005:249). In 1979, during a conversation with Greek critic and curator Marilena Kassimati in Munich, Ewald Petritschek (1917-1997, Gyzis’s grandson and Penelope Gyzis’s son) stated that, at the twilight of his life, the painter had been acquainted with Theosophical literature (Kassimati 2002:45-46). However, in his correspondence, Gyzis never referred to Theosophical books nor to specific Theosophical ideas. Furthermore, Gyzis’s journals, which were in the possession of his son, Telemachus, were burnt during the aerial bombings in January 7, 1944, near the airport, in Athens (Didaskalou 1991:1). It would be risky, therefore, to jump to the conclusion that Gyzis was an orthodox Theosophist.
A fascination for Spiritualism was shared by many artists and intellectuals at that time, most considerably among them the Munich Secessionists Albert von Keller (1844-1920) and Gabriel von Max (Loers 1995; Danzker 2010). The German Theosophical Society was founded on July 27, 1884. The Society held its second meeting in the same year on August 9, at Gabriel von Max’s Ammerland villa, south of Munich, and von Max became deeply involved in Theosophical and Spiritualist matters. In 1886, however, the German Theosophical Society was dissolved in the aftermath of the controversies where Madame Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891), the Society’s international leader, was accused of having fraudulently produced the letters she claimed she was receiving from the mysterious Masters. Von Keller and von Max, together with the physician Albert von Schrenk-Notzing (1862-1929), formed the Psychologische Gesellschaft (Psychological Society), modeled on the Society for Psychical Research in England. Yet, we cannot demonstrate that Gyzis had direct contacts with the Psychological Society.
Both Keller and Gyzis were members of the Künstlergesellschaft Allotria (Art Association Allotria), from which later sprang out the Munich Secession. The Art Association Allotria was founded in 1873 by Franz von Lenbach (1836-1904), a very close friend of Gyzis, who also wrote the commemorative introduction to Montandon’s book. What remained hitherto unnoticed, is the fact that Gyzis designed in 1895 the cover for the illustrated magazine Über Land und Meer (Over Land and See), which abounds in Masonic symbols [Image at right]. A member of the editorial staff of the magazine, Ludwig Gärtner, was also a member of the Psychological Society (Petritakis 2013).
In general, Greek art history viewed Gyzis’s work as being engaged in a dialogue with Classical and Byzantine art, the two main threads that allegedly ran through contemporary Greek civilization. As Matthiopoulos correctly indicated, Gyzis’s late work has been viewed and thus appropriated with a certain uneasiness by the intellectual milieu of Greece, and sustained efforts have been made to purge it of its mystical and symbolic elements: in other words, to subdue its “lurid modernization” and supplant it with more representational thought systems and ideologies (Kaklamanos 1901:27-28, Matthiopoulos 2005:541). Kalligas stressed that “Gyzis’s religious works enrich the traditional Christian iconography with a new figure, a figure that cannot be regarded neither as purely Orthodox nor purely Western. It is essentially Christian” (Kalligas 1981:175). Similar tropes of thought have permeated the field of Greek art history until recent times, thwarting the understanding of Gyzis’s late symbolist work in its socio-cultural and ideological context (Danos 2015:11-22). Given the situation prevailing in nineteenth century artistic life in Greece, only a limited circle of artists and literates in Athens and in the Greek diaspora could understand the questions Gyzis’s paintings posed (Matthiopoulos 2016).
Apparently, after the demise of the painter, in 1901, and the concomitant exhibitions of his paintings in Glaspalast, a certain “Theosophical aura” formed around his work. Anna May, a private student of Gyzis, played a certain role in that direction. Her father, Heinrich May (1825-1915), had been Gyzis’s private doctor during the painter’s difficult late years, when Anna played the role of the artist’s muse, whose advice or opinion on various matters he would often solicit.
Margarita Hauschka, Anna May’s niece, reported that in the studio of Anna in Adalbertsstrasse, in the vicinity of the Munich branch of the Theosophical Society, a picture was hanging, supposedly with the title The Majesty of God (Majestät Gottes), apparently, a copy of Gyzis’ Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh, if not the same work. When Tadeusz Rychter, a young painter from Poland, formerly associated with the cultural modernist milieu of the political cabaret Kleiner grüner Ballon [Small Green Balloon] in Krakow. and a student of Gyzis, came to rent the studio and saw the image, he immediately recognized it and asked to keep it in the apartment. Anna May rejected the offer, and Rychter ended up making a small replica of the original work (Hauschka 1975:188). Interestingly enough, a strong erotic relationship blossomed out from this fortuitous event, although it was strongly opposed by Anna May’s parents, since they were strong Catholics and Rychter was a staunch Theosophist. We may thus surmise that it was after having indoctrinated Anna May in Theosophy that Rychter, in the first months of 1910, moved to Berlin to attend some lectures by Rudolf Steiner. It should have been at that time that Rychter drew Steiner’s attention to the Greek painter (Petritakis 2016:84-85). Furthermore, there is evidence that, around 1910, a copy of the Bridegroom decorated the premises of the Munich branch of the Theosophical Society and was well liked by its members (Bracker 2004:61).
During 1907 and 1910, Anna May, as well as Rychter, worked as set designers for Steiner’s Mystery Plays in Munich, that is, around the time Steiner delivered a lecture on Gyzis to the Munich Theosophical society (Levy 2003). Furthermore, May received a commission from Steiner for a painting that would adorn the Johannesbau in Munich, a forerunner of the Goetheanum Steiner would later build in Dornach, near Basel, Switzerland, as the world headquarters of Anthroposophy (Zander 2007:819). It was conceived as a triptych that should depict the different stages of mystical Christianity, from Solomon as its precursor through the Holy Grail and up to Rosicrucianism. The work was reminiscent in many ways of Gyzis’s late religious projects, especially in terms of symbolism and compositional arrangement (Petritakis 2014). It is, however, preserved to us only through a transparency kept by May’s niece (Hauschka 1975), since the original painting, once in the Hamburger Waldorfschule, the Anthroposophical high school in Hamburg, was destroyed during the bombings in the Second World War (Hauschka 1975:187). [Image at right] In February 1918, May exhibited the triptych in the Munich gallery Das Reich, run by Anthroposophist and alchemist Alexander von Bernus (1880-1965), and later, the same year, in the Glaspalast, under the last name May-Kerpen (Petritakis 2016:84-85). In 1924, after receiving a commission from the publishing house “Christliche Kunst,” Rychter moved with Anna May, now his wife, to Palestine. In 1939, Rychter’s traces were lost soon after he was commissioned to restore a church near Radom, in Poland. Apparently, he was murdered by the Nazis in 1943 (Levy 2003; Bracker 2004:62). Thereafter, Anna May lived, as a kind of “recluse,” in a small Arabian house, which soon became the first Anthroposophical centre in Palestine, a meeting hub for foreigners and friends (Gottlieb 1954:128-29). Anna May cultivated limited contacts with other Anthroposophists, most of them Jewish expatriates from Central Europe. These included Eva Levy from Vienna (born Eva Rosenberg, 1924-2011), who later, in 1942, got married to the prominent Anthroposophist and pioneer of Zionist movement, Michael Levy (1913-1998), or architect Bruno Eljahu Friedjung, born also in Vienna, in 1906 (Bracker 2004:62).
Before departing with Rychter to Palestine, Anna May was tightly associated with the Künstlergruppe Aenigma, to which both she and Rychter adhered. This group, which exhibited collectively between 1918 and 1932, was founded by Maria Strakosch-Giesler (1877-1970), a former Kandinsky student, and Irma von Duczyńska (1869-1932), both of whom had received an academic art education and were ardent feminists with avant-garde tendencies (Fäth 2015). Gyzis’s work was also very well known to the artists’ group Aenigma, which was mainly steered by Rudolf Steiner and whose members were attendants of his lectures and followers of his ideas.
After Gyzis’s death, Rudolf Steiner, then a leader of the German Theosophical Society, began associating with contemporary art groups and was eager to introduce his ideas on art to young art students who attended his lectures, thereby finding a way to legitimize his activities within the German society. The International Theosophical Congress he organized in Munich in 1907 (May 18-21) was attended by 600 people, most of whom were coming from German-speaking countries, England, France, and America but also from Russia and Scandinavia (Zander 2007:1067-076).
In 1910, Rudolf Steiner presented before the members of the Theosophical Society in Munich the mystery drama by French Theosophist Édouard Schuré (1841-1929), The Children of Lucifer, as well as his own Rosicrucian play The Portal of Initiation (Zander 1998). On August 25, he delivered his lecture on Gyzis. Steiner’s lecture on Gyzis is important, as it was the first time that Steiner thought so highly of a contemporary painter that he dedicated a whole lecture to him. He even ordered a photographic reproduction of the painting to be made in smaller format, which is now preserved in the Steiner Archive in Dornach (Petritakis 2016:84). It seems that Gyzis’s paintings reaped much admiration among the friends of Steiner (who later formed the Anthroposophical community), most of all Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh, to which Steiner predominately dedicated his lecture. Steiner named the painting “Through the light, the love” [Aus dem Lichte, die Liebe]. He was in that way pointing towards an Eastern Christological doctrine, closely related to the idea of Sobornost, which had been widely disseminated in Symbolist circles, most notably in those around Russian philosopher Vyacheslav Ivanov (1866-1949) and composer Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) (Petritakis 2018).
In his lecture, Steiner drew the audience’s attention to the two cosmic spheres that glow in the upper part of Gyzis’s scene, aptly correlating them with the genesis scene by Michelangelo (1475-1564) in the Cappella Sistina in Rome. Furthermore, he argued that the scene echoes the moment at which the new God hovers above to create the world, whereas the old God departs leaving behind demolished shells of the old realm (Steiner 1953). At this time, Steiner’s approach was taking a turn towards more esoteric-Christian ideas. As Max Gümbel-Seiling (1879-1967), a member of the German Theosophical Society and later of the Anthroposophical Society (who had contributed to the preparation of the Mystery Plays in Munich during that Summer) recalled, Steiner imbued the two spheres of the painting with a further cosmological meaning. He argued that, in Blavatskyan terms, the ancient planet on the left of the scene echoes the astronomical period of Manvantara (manifestation) and the new one on the right, the period of Pralaya (retraction) (Gümbel-Seiling 1946:53; Petritakis 2016:87).
Elsewhere in his lecture, Steiner emphasized the use of gold-hued color over the faces and swords of the angels, regarding it as a manifestation of the radiation emanating from the “Spirit of Elohim.” He connected the indigo-blue color with rapt devotion and humility and red with chastity. Since the German Theosophists’ aesthetic predilections were leaning more towards the Madonnas of Raphael (1483-1520), Steiner admonished his audience not to be taken aback by the sketch-like, vaporous coloring of the painting (Steiner 1953:424). This remark is important, since it indicates that Steiner was leaving behind traditional Rosicrucian tropes and engaging in more experimental, one could even say, more avant-garde pursuits. Similarly, in his lectures on art in Dornach, Steiner would elaborate further on the relationship between blue-indigo, which has a centrifugal quality, and yellow-orange, which is centripetal (Petritakis 2014). Artist Maria Strakosch-Giesler recalled how Steiner demonstrated this use of blue-indigo in a series of examples, from Cimabue (ca. 1240-1302) and Giotto (1267-1337) to Filippo Lippi (1406-1469) (Strakosch-Giesler 1955:29; Petritakis 2014).
Perhaps it was precisely Steiner’s encounter with Gyzis’s images that prompted him to conceive or express his new ideas on art theory, rooted mainly in the legacy of German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) (Halfen 2007). Steiner promoted these ideas in the contemporary artistic milieu, in a crucial period of his life when he tried to separate from the occult and aesthetic ideas of international Theosophical leader Annie Besant (1847-1933) and to better adapt to the historical transformations of German society (Petritakis 2013). The reactualization of Goethe’s Farbenlehre (theory of colors) as a “historical necessity” for young artists, firmly indicated by the example of Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), who himself attended Steiner’s lectures and who acknowledged the influence of Theosophy in his seminal theoretical work Concerning the Spiritual in Art, coincided with the revival of esoteric Christianity promoted by the future founder of Anthroposophy (Petritakis 2013, 2016).
**All images are clickable links to enlarged representations.
Image #1: Nikolaos Gyzis in his studio in the 1890s. Photo by Elias van Bommel.
Image #2: Nikolaos Gyzis, Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh (preparatory sketch, 1899-1900). Oil drawing on canvas, Athens, National Gallery, inv. Π.574/4.
Image #3: Nikolaos Gyzis, Behold the Bridegroom Cometh (preparatory sketch, 1899-1900). Oil drawing on canvas, Athens, National Gallery, inv. Π.574/1.
Image #4: Nikolaos Gyzis, Archangel (study from the The Foundation of Faith), ca. 1894. Oil drawing on canvas, Athens, Benaki Museum, inv. ΓΕ _24317.
Image #5: Nikolaos Gyzis, Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh (1899-1900). Oil on canvas, Athens, National Gallery, inv. Π.641.
Image #6: Nikolaos Gyzis, Fall of Satan (?), 1890-1900. Indian ink on photographic foil, Athens, National Gallery, inv. Π.628/17.
Image #7: Nikolaos Gyzis, frontispiece depicting the Fame, for the periodical Über Land und Meer (1895).
Image #8: Anna May-Rychter, The Triptych of Grail, transparency preserved by Margarita Hauschka (the original is now lost). Rudolf Steiner Archive, Goetheanum, Dornach.
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