Konstantinos Volanakis depicts the inauguration of the Corinth Canal

Konstantinos Volanakis depicts the inauguration of the Corinth Canal

One of the first technological feats in 19th century Greece was the opening of the canal at the isthmus of Corinth. The works captivated painter Konstantinos Volanakis (1837-1907), who painted the works on the opening as well as the inauguration ceremony in a number of paintings. Volanakis’ specialty as a painter was seascapes. He studied at the Munich Academy and returned to Greece in 1882, internationally recognized as the recipient of prestigious awards with his Naval Battle at Lissa (1868, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.)

When he returned to Athens, he had already been offered a teaching position at the School of Fine Arts and a commission from the Ministry of Shipping, a painting depicting the Battle at Salamis (1882, Nautical Museum of Greece.) The picture was full of symbolisms: on the one hand, it bore testimony to the continuance between ancient Greece and the modern Greek state, and on the other side, the glorious scenes of the victory of the ancient Greeks against the Persians were juxtaposed with the triumphs of the Greeks during the Revolution of 1821.

Undoubtedly, though, his most characteristic work is the depiction of harbor scenes, especially the harbor of Piraeus, and seascapes with the soft tones of the sunset and a melancholic mood.