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People call Nikiforo Litra « Founder and Patriarch » of the Greek art. He was born in Pirgos of Tinos at 1832 and died in Athens at 1904.
Having at his disposal: studies in the School of Arts from 1850 until 1856, Ludwing Thierch as a teacher and the help of the brothers Margariti and Raffaelo Ceccoli, he started very early his artistic activity. He began his studies in Munich with a scholarship of the Greek government (1860-1865). When he retuned to Greece in 1865 he was appointed professor at the Faculty of Painting of the Technical University, where he instructed for 34 years until his death at 1904.
Litras is a decisive physiognomy of the artistic and spiritual life. He is the official portraitist of Athens’ high society. He has created the monumental portraits of the families: Serpieri-Kafkatzoglou, the portraits of the directories of the National Bank and of others. The persons of his portraits are depicted impressive and with a psychographic discernment that emphasizes the different elements of each person.
The ethographies of Litra, a form in which he is a mover, come up to the dominant ideology of the middle class of that epoch and in the general request for the proof of the historic continuation of the Greeks. His two trips in Asia Minor at 1873 and in Egypt at 1879 enriched his work with oriental subjects.
Litras has worked as a painter and as a professor in the School of Fine Arts. Many of his students (G.Iakovidis, P.Pantazis, G.Roilos, N.Bokos) were distinguished as great painters.
Very early he accomplished recognition and fame. His presence in the artistic exhibitions of Athens was continuous. He represented Greece, with his famous colleagues, in the International Exhibitions of Paris at 1855,1867,1878 and of Vienna at 1873. He was decorated with the Gold Cross of Saver at 1903.
BRIEF BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
1832- Birth of Nikiforo Litra in Pirgos village of Tinos. His father was working as a marble carver.
1832/1850- He stayed in Tinos.
1850/56- At the age of 18 years old he came to Athens. He studied painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Technical University.
1856/1855- Litras was assistant of Thiersch in the hagiography of the Savers’ Russian Church in Athens.
1850/55- Frequent distinctions in the annual competitions and exhibitions.
1855- Exhibition of his work in the annual Exhibition of Paris.
1856/1858- Litras with S.Xatzigianopoulo teach at the Artistic School.
1860/1866- Litras in Munich, at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts with a scholarship of the government.
1862- Because of the dethronement of Othona his scholarship stopped. The baron Simon Sinas, ambassador of Greece in Vienna, took care of the expenses of his studies.
1865- Meeting in Munich with Nikolao Gizi.
1865/1904- Return to Athens. Litras is appointed professor in the School of Arts.
1873- Three months trip with Nikolao Gizi and a record of their impressions.
1874- The two friends leave for Munich and stayed there until the September of 1875.
1876- Trip of Litra in Munich and then in Paris with Litra.
1879- Trip in Egypt.
1879 -He married Irini Kiriakidi, daughter of the trader Nikolaou Kiriakidi.
1880- Birth of his first child, Antonio. After Nikolaos was born, then Othon, Periklis, Lisandros and last Xrisaugi.
1867/1903- Partecipation in exhibitions: Artistic exhibition in the residence of Mela(1881), International exhibitions ( Paris 1867, 1878, 1889, Paris 1900 bronze medal for his works: “Sardelopoli” and “Galata” in Vienna with the Great Medal), pan-hellenic exhibitions in Zappio ( 1888, 1869).
1904- Litras died at the age of 72 years old.
1909- After his death his work was selected to be presented in the exhibition of Munich in the gallery of Heinemann.
1933- A big retrospective exhibition in The School of Fine Arts of 186 works made by him.