Theophrastos Triantaphyllidis (1881-1955)

Audio tour

Raisin workers, 1920-25, oil on canvas, 79.7 x 102 cm

Theophrastos Triantaphyllidis has finished this work sometime between 1920 and 1925. The painting, a fine example of an everyday interior scene, represents a recurrent thematic exploration by the artist. Here, we see female workers hand-picking raisins, in an agricultural activity that used to be vital to the Greek economy, which then relied heavily on the production and export of raisins.

We are indoors, in the workspace where these stooping women, wearing everyday work clothes and mandili (the Greek name for a scarf) on their heads, are totally absorbed in their mechanical activity. Their facial features are dimly sketched, perhaps in an attempt to symbolise their automated work, where the person is diminished to a mere unit of production. The women are silent, sullen and concentrated – each one at her post. Exteriors are shown only through the window: it seems we are in the countryside but, at the same time, both the workers and we, the viewers, are cut off from it. The underlying melancholy of the place and the faces is accentuated by the dark shades that the painter has used, while the distinct textures create blurry surroundings.

Theophrastos Triantaphyllidis is considered one of the main representatives of Greek Intimism, i.e. of the depiction of scenes that take place in private, indoor spaces. Although the Greek audience had not singled him out during his lifetime, his fellow painters acknowledged and appreciated him dearly. Nowadays, his significant contribution to the history of modern Greek art, even though with some delay, has been utterly recognised.