Dimitrios Galanis (1879-1966)

Audio tour

Leda and the swan, 1936, eau-forte, 32.3 x 24 cm

Here, we see the mythical personnage of Leda, who, standing with her back turned to the viewer, lies within a rather neutral environment. However, it can be easily perceived that she has just bathed and now wipes her left leg using the edge of a cloth. At the same time, she holds a tree branch to keep her balance, and presumably stands at the bank of a river. On her left stands the swan, with its wings spread open, and touching her thigh. In 1936, Dimitrios Galanis engages, not for the first time, in the well-known theme of Leda and the Swan, a myth examined as a subject by many artists. Another similar work is the wood engraving The Three Graces, a print by the same artist, exhibited in this same hall, which we encourage you to observe. Galanis here uses the eau-forte technique, which achieves stronger chiaroscuro effects, through the multiple and extremely thin cuts. Emphasis is placed more on rendering the plasticity of the nude figure, whose curvy form dominates the composition, despite the profuse erotic overtones prevalent in the myth.

In a way, Dimitrios Galanis is the one who has laid the foundation of modern Greek engraving. With his retrospective exhibition of prints at the Iliou Melathron (Schliemann Mansion) in Athens in 1928, he managed to rekindle the interest of the Greek public in printmaking as an autonomous art form in Greece. Permanently settled in Paris since 1900, he was educated at the Paris School of Fine Arts. His involvement with the art of engraving started from book illustrations, while he later developed his technique in his free printing work.

Having come in close contact with modern European printmaking, Galanis conveyed the throb of European artistic reality in Greece, and is considered a great master, highly influential for modern Greek engraving to this day.