Konstantinos Volanakis
Pyrophani - Fire fishing
oil on canvas
64 x 115 cm
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In this scene, Volanakis combines three of his favourite aspects: a genre theme, a nighttime scene and the pictorial rendering of contrasts; deep darkness and bright light, action and quiescence.

The seascape includes some of Volanakis’ familiar pictorial features: on the left, in the background, the open sea with the recognisable sailboat sailing away, and further back a steamship disappearing into the horizon. The land, a massif with buildings on the beach, and sailing vessels are outlined on the right. The main scene unfolds in the centre with unparalleled detailed descriptions: on a one-masted fishing sailboat, fishermen have cast their nets into the sea. One fisherman is holding the torch, the other two are hauling in the nets and a fourth one is holding the rope of the boat on the side.

The surrounding atmosphere is imposing; the elaborate overcast sky, the deep darkness spreading menacingly over the calm sea and the blinding light of the fire captivating the eye.


Marilena Z. Kassimati (curator), Constantinos Volanakis: Poet of the Sea, exhibition catalogue, Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, Hellenic Maritime Museum, Athens 2009, pp. 158, 184.

Takis Mavrotas (curator), Constantinos Volanakis: The Father of Greek Seascape Painting, exhibition catalogue, B&M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts, Athens 2018, pp. 74-75.

Thodoris Koutsogiannis (curator), Constantinos Volanakis: Nostos of the Sea. Artworks from the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation collection, exhibition catalogue, Municipal Art Gallery of Chania, pp. 172-173.

Sotheby’s / London, The Greek Sale, 18/10/2001.

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