Konstantinos Volanakis
Sailing offshore
oil on canvas
54.5 x 81 cm
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The usual calm in Volanakis’ works is transformed into a storm in this painting, which, instead of serenity, conveys a feeling between awe and fear. The sky is imposing, with dark and black clouds spreading ominously, while the darkness of the turbulent sea with the white-crested waves creates an extraordinary feeling. The complete absence of any human presence is also striking.

Apart from the seascape, the only pictorial references are a three-masted sailboat, a huge, bare and inaccessible mass of land, as well as sea rocks. Huge waves are sweeping across the deck and have dangerously enveloped the barque, which seems to have surrendered to the fury of the tempest.

This time, Volanakis’ approach is more impressionistic and schematic than thoroughly descriptive. The detailed vividness of the individual subjects is toned down even in the rendering of the three-masted vessel’s unique features, with its particular elements such as the lifeboats, flag and rigging merely traced.


Marilena Z. Kassimati (curator), Constantinos Volanakis: Poet of the Sea, exhibition catalogue, Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, Hellenic Maritime Museum, Athens 2009, pp. 169, 185.

Takis Mavrotas (curator), Constantinos Volanakis: The Father of Greek Seascape Painting, exhibition catalogue, B&M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts, Athens 2018, p. 87.

Thodoris Koutsogiannis (curator), Constantinos Volanakis: Nostos of the Sea. Artworks from the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation collection, exhibition catalogue, Municipal Art Gallery of Chania, pp. 42, 136-137.

Sotheby’s / London, The Greek Sale, 22/05/2006.

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