Emily, / A ship is floating in the harbour now, / A wind is hovering o’er the mountain’s brow; / There is a path on the sea’s azure floor, / No keel has ever plough’d that path before; / The halcyons brood around the foamless isles; The treacherous Ocean has forsworn its wiles; / The merry mariners are bold and free: / Say, my heart’s sister, wilt thou sail with me? / Our bark is as an albatross, whose nest / Is a far Eden of the purple East; / And we between her wings will sit, while Night, / And Day, and Storm, and Calm, pursue their flight, / Our ministers, along the boundless Sea, / Treading each other’s heels, unheededly… wrote for Epipsychidion, Percy Bysshe Shelley back in 1821. Off the harbor by Ioannis Altamouras is a small painting that reminds me of Shelley’s description… A ship is floating in the harbour now… https://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/epipsychidion_(excerpt)_5166
Ioannis Altmouras, an accomplished representative of the Seascape painting genre, is one of my favourite modern Greek painters. Born in Italy, his parents were both artists, Ioannis Altamouras was of Greek/Italian descent. He was the son of Saverio Altamura, an Italian Painter, and Professor at the Naples School of Fine Arts, and Eleni Boukouri from the island of Spetses, who, daringly dressed as a young man, studied Art in Italy, at times, under the tutelage of her future husband Saverio. Between 1857 and 1859 his parents separated, and Eleni took her two older children and returned to Greece, where she raised them teaching Art to prominent members of the Athenian society, including the Greek Queen, Olga. Eleni was Altamouras’s first Art Teacher, who, in 1871-72, coached by Nikephoros Lytras, studied at the School of Fine Arts in Athens. Between 1873 and 1876 Ioannis Altamouras was in Denmark, on a scholarship from King George I, where he continued his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts at Copenhagen, close to the great painter of the time, Carl Frederick Sorensen. During the summer of 1876, Altamouras’s revolutionary spirit took him to the fishing village of Skagen, where 40 Danish painters had created the well-known “Skagen Colony”. It was at Skagen where the ideas of Impressionism in his art, took roots, as he spent time outdoors observing, the Skagen open horizon and the interplay of different colors in natural light. Sick with tuberculosis, Altamouras returns to Greece and tragically young, he died, six years later, in 1878. https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/painting-permanent-exhibition/painter/altamouras-ioannis.html
Off the harbor by Ioannis Altamouras is a small painting in the Art Collection of the Bank of Greece, rarely seen by the public but nicely documented as it was exhibited in the 2018 Exhibition at the Benaki Museum, titled Frames of Reference from the Bank of Greece Collection. I like how it is described… A dull, rainy, and humid seascape is revealed in front of us. Small boats are scattered here and there, schematically defined, somewhat vaguely against the background. A little to the fore, we see a few boats painted in dark colours and contrasting the overall blue-white landscape. Their cross-like shape makes them a point of reference for the entire composition. Sea and sky appear united, in the absence of a clear separating line for the horizon. https://museum.bankofgreece.gr/topoianaforas/modern_greek_art/501_Altamouras_en.html
For a PowerPoint Student Activity on Altamouras’s Seascapes, please… Check HERE!