After many years of neglect, the restorations of Angelos Giallinas’ mansion have finally begun!
Angelos Giallinas, a Corfiot-born landscape painter best known for his watercolor paintings, was born in 1857 and lived much of his life in Corfu. Originally from the Greek island of Corfu, Angelos Giallinas grew up in aristocratic circles. While in Corfu, he first studied under Haralambo Pahi before moving on to Italy’s capital cities of Rome and Naples to complete his education. While the Italian Vendutisti impacted his early works, his interest in aquarelles grew, and it was through this technique that he was able to communicate some of his most complete expressions. He returned to Corfu in 1878 and established a home there. He painted primarily in watercolors, a medium in which he excelled, producing works of unmatched beauty as a result of his inspiration from his birthplace.
He began participating in Athens’ “Panhellenic Exhibitions” soon after, and in 1886, he had his first solo exhibition. There he met Francis Clare Ford, a British Ambassador, who commissioned him to paint collections of landscapes from Venice, Spain, Rhodes and Constantinople, as well as organizing exhibits for Giallinas in Athens, London, and Spain and introducing him to European royal circles. The London Graves Gallery had five exhibits by Giallinas.
The ambassador and members of the aristocracy of British society, to whom Ford presented and praised Giallinas, including the royal family, were clearly enchanted by the artist’s paintings, with their peaceful vistas of Corfu and famous monuments of Attica. Angelos Giallinas was Greece’s first outstanding watercolor painter with a European perspective. Giallinas’ clientele included among many European aristocratic families the Duchess of York and later Queen Mary of England, the princely couple of Wales and the royal family of England, the imperial family of Japan and Kaiser William of Germany , who in 1907 and 1908 invited him to create the frescoes of Achillion Place, his summer residence in Corfu.
Later in life Giallinas exhibited in Berlin and Paris. In 1902, Giallinas founded the Artistic School of Corfu, his own private art school in which he taught as well. His largest exhibition came in 1918 at the “Galerie D’Art Geo” in Athens. Nine works of Giallinas belong to the royal collection, one of which hung in the royal yacht. A major retrospective of his work was held at the National Gallery of Greece in 1974.
There are several public and private collections where his art may be found.
Angelos Giallinas predominantly worked in watercolor, bringing pictures to paper with sensitivity and spontaneity unique to this medium, but also paying close attention to detail, which he achieved through great drawing skills and the exact placement of clean, bright color regions. The Angelos Giallinas Gallery’s collection comprises 586 works, watercolors, and oil paintings organized into sixteen subject sections. In these, Corfu’s city, countryside, and people, as well as its gardens, landscapes, and churches, interact with Greece’s remarkable archaeological structures as well as the unique landscapes of the countries visited by the artist. In his famous watercolors, Angelos Giallinas portrays the Corfiot light, the lyrical environment with its unique dampness, and the iridescent hues with their transparency, correctness, and honesty.
Angelos Giallinas died at the age of 82 in Corfu in 1939. His son, Stamos Giallinas, who did not have children, before his death requested the establishment of a cultural institution in the family’s apartment to preserve his father’s paintings. His residence in Corfu Town’s Spianada Square was converted into an art gallery in 1992, and a foundation was founded to administer and promote his work. With the passage of time, the structure began to show signs of wear and tear. A total of fifteen artworks were stolen in September 2010, with the majority of them being recovered in November 2016. The paintings were subsequently moved to the building of Corfu’s Municipal Art Gallery in order to be saved from the ravages of time and humidity.
The following images are some Angelos Giallinas’ watercolor works, reproduced in three color lithography by Aspiotis in Corfu.
The Angelos Giallinas Foundation owns the mansion of Giallinas, which is designated as a historical preservable monument by the Ministry of Culture and consists of a ground floor, two stories, and a habitable sub-roof. The building has a total size of 1534 square meters. Angelos Giallinas purchased the building from the Quartano family in 1885 and moved in with his wife Angeliki Topali and their two children in the early twentieth century. The painter had his studio in this building as well. Elizabeth Giallinas, Stamos Giallinas’ wife, died in 1998. She had inherited the mansion and served as the first president of the Angelos Giallinas Art Gallery Foundation.
On the first floor, the Giallinas mansion features a portico with arches and a balcony, and it, like other structures in town, has undergone several renovations and extensions to suit the demands of each inhabitant. Since the Venetian time, the structure has been developed in numerous phases and has taken on its current form as a consequence of the union of four buildings. The main structure was created by combining two adjoining buildings from the 17th century, and it most likely coexisted with the third structure on the side. The second floor and the whole back structure are later additions since the building was enlarged in height and width around 1840, according to designs by Corfiot architect Ioannis Chronis, giving the building practically its current appearance. Nonetheless, it is an example of a large-urban house with distinct morphological aspects typical of Corfiot urban architecture, making it a significant landmark in Corfu’s architectural history.
The structure is situated on an 800 square meter plot, of which 500 square meters are covered by the structure. On the side, there is a courtyard, and on the rear, there are two smaller outdoor areas. Stones and solid bricks were used to construct the outside walls of both the earliest and later structures. The interior walls and floor are made of wood. The building’s colors are soft yellow (ochre) on the walls and white around the windows and shields, evoking various Venetian houses. Two flats are located on the first level. The largest apartment on this floor was Angelos Giallinas’ personal dwelling. The painter’s furnishings, personal possessions, as well as the easel he used and most of his work was all inside the flat before it was evacuated due to substantial damage to the structure.
Corfiot writer Konstantinos Theotokis spent the last year of his life in the side building. He was a notable figure in narrative writing, as well as a translator, scholar, and poet, and he is often regarded as the father of the Greek social novel. He was also known for his linguistic skills since he was fluent in six current languages and five ancient languages. Doctors discovered that he had an incurable illness in 1922. After that, he returned to Corfu Town with his wife, Ernestina von Malovic, Baroness of Bohemia, and they resided in the Gallina building until his death in 1923 at the age of 51.
The mansion is undergoing renovations currently, which will take around two years to complete. Angelos Giallinas’ artworks will be returned to the house where he formerly resided and created the majority of his works, which will also serve as the official building of the Angelos Giallinas Art Gallery.
Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons-Public Domain, Corfu Perspectives Guided Tours