Nikolaus Gysis

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Nikolaus Gysis
While studying (1883)

Nikolaus Gysis or Nikolaos Gyzis ( Greek Νικόλαος Γύζης , born March 1, 1842 in Sklavochori on Tinos , Greece ; † January 4, 1901 in Munich ) was a Greek genre and monumental painter who spent most of his life and work in Germany.


School years

Gysis was born as the son of a carpenter, Onoufrios and his wife Margarita. Psalti, born. From 1850 he attended the elementary school of Karamanos on Athenerstrasse, with a particular preference for drawing lessons. After his father was persuaded by his mother and the neighborhood, he attended the Polytechneion ( Polytechnic School ) for four years, but without being officially enrolled because of his young age.

At the age of twelve he came to the Polytechnic in 1854 as a registered student. His teachers were u. a. Philippos and Georgios Margaritis , Agathangelos Triantaphyllou and Ludwig Thiersch . On May 21, 1865 Gysis received a scholarship from the Evangelistria monastery in Tinos . On the advice of Nikiphoros Lytras , a painter colleague who had studied with Karl von Piloty in Munich, Gysis decided to move there as well.

Academy time

Advertisement for the Munich tobacco factory Papastathis

At that time, Munich was next to Paris due to the excellent reputation of its Academy of Fine Arts Munich in general, and teachers such as Piloty in particular, the most important and most important art forge in Europe. Many young Greek art students who arrived in Munich since the middle of the 19th century were greatly encouraged by Ludwig I's cultural policy in the Bavarian metropolis . Nikolaus Gysis was one of the most important of the Greeks who studied at the Munich Academy.

On June 1, 1865, the journey to Munich began via Tinos , Syra , Trieste , Vienna and Salzburg . In October of the same year he was accepted into Hermann Anschütz's class of antiquities at the academy . Also in 1865, his college friend Max Fürst made an oil painting by Nikolaus Gysis. After preparatory lessons with Anschütz and Alexander Wagner , Piloty accepted him into his master's studio in 1868, which he attended until March 28, 1871.


Oriental warrior

In 1869 Gustave Courbet came to Munich to take part in the 1st International Art Exhibition . At that time it was not only a confirmation and revelation for Leibl and his circle, Gysis and other Munich artists also received important things from Courbet's work.

In 1872 Gysis went to Athens , where he was already celebrated as a well-known artist by his compatriots, and in 1873 toured Asia Minor with Nikiphoros Lytras , but returned to Munich the following year.

He visited his home town twice, but stayed in Munich all his life, where he taught at the academy from 1882 until his death. Since his stay in Munich, Nikolaus Gysis was friends with Franz von Defregger , with whom he also traveled in the 1870s.

From July to the end of September 1874, Gysis and Lytras rented Gabriel Max's studio and lived at Bayerstrasse 49 / III.

In 1878 three of his works were shown at the Paris World Exhibition , one of which won a third class medal . On October 16, he was appointed professor and from then on taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, followed by the appointment of "full academy professor" on June 1, 1888.

Last years

See the Heavenly Bridegroom (unfinished)

In 1900 he was granted six months' sick leave. In his absence he was represented by one of his students under the supervision of Professor Ludwig von Löfftz . Nikolaus Gysis died on January 4, 1901 in his apartment in Munich's Luisenstrasse 50 of complications from leukemia . He was buried in the north cemetery in Munich.


In 1877 Gysis married Artemis Nasos, whom he met in Athens. With her he had five children, four daughters and a son. The events of his family life were:

  • 1878 on June 7th, birth of the first child Penelope, she died on June 19th
  • 1879 Birth of the daughter Margarita-Penelope
  • 1881 Daughter Margarita is born. Mother died at the end of September.
  • 1882 Death of his father in early March.
  • 1884 birth of the son Onoufrios-Telemach.
  • 1890 birth of the daughter Iphigenia (Iphigenia).
  • His sister Marigo dies in the spring of 1900.


The Barber (1880)

Gysis was "one of the few students of Piloty who understood the value of drawing in its own form". His drafts of compositions and the associated studies were already admired during his lifetime. Gysis retained essential stylistic features of Piloty in later works, such as the consistent and precise working through of the drawing, the consistent use of the pictorial space for the development of the scenic with often quite theatrical lighting.

He dealt with genre painting , landscape studies , still lifes , portraits , diplomas , posters , as well as with mythological , historical , allegorical and religious topics. A book illustration , caricatures and even a number of clay statuettes and reliefs are part of his work.

Nikolaus Gysis, who was celebrated internationally as one of the major genre painters of the Munich School during his lifetime , lived like many other successful Munich colleagues, not least from orders from foreign buyers. Accordingly, a large part of its production was intended for export . He had customers in England , the USA and in his home country Greece.


Old farmer 1883.
The secret school (1885/86).

His most famous picture represents one of the so-called "secret schools". The picture, which every schoolchild in Greece knows, shows a group of Greek students who are being taught in secret. The fact that the Turks forbade teaching in Greek during the occupation of Greece and that Greek culture only survived thanks to secret teaching in the monasteries is denied by the Turkish side and described as a legend. In fact, the monasteries were important mediators of the Greek tradition, which naturally was not promoted by the occupiers.

One of his most important paintings is the work "Alter Bauer", which shows a funny Upper Bavarian old man and dates from 1883. This painting was the property of the important Munich gallery Heinemann , which had sold it in the Leipzig annual exhibition in Leipzig on November 20, 1913 for 1,600 Reichsmarks, an exorbitant price for the time. The painting was listed in the gallery's archive under the number 12061. It is now in a private collection.


Gysis' students at the academy included Maximilian Wachsmuth , Georgios Jakobides , Ernst Oppler , Fritz Osswald , Walter Thor , Paul Thiem and Alfred Juergens .


Web links

Commons : Nikolaus Gysis  - Collection of images, videos and audio files