Son of Ioannis Kantounis, doctor, poet and writer, he trained under Ioannis Korais and, most likely, Nikolaos Koutouzis who, according to tradition, expelled him from his studio out of jealousy. In any case, he always called himself an autodidact as can be seen in an inscription on his selfportrait (National Gallery). The influence of Koutouzis is obvious both in his work and in his private life since, following Koutouzis’ example, he was ordained into the priesthood in 1788 at the church of the Evangelistria in Zakynthos. Later, as a member of the revolutionary Filiki Etaireia (“Friendly Society”) he worked for the Greek Revolution and from May to October 1821 was exiled on the island of Kyras af to Dia, near Cephalonia, where he painted The Last Supper .
His work is made up of religious compositions and portraits. The religious part included paintings in the churches of Ayioi Pantes, Ayioi Apostoloi, Our Lady of Tsourouflis, Ayia Paraskevi, the Hodegetria and Chrysopigi on Zakynthos, which have not survived. In the Zakynthos Museum there are various paintings from the church of the Virgin Pikridiotissa, Ayioi Anargyroi, Ayios Georgios of Kypriana, Episkopiani, Ayios Andreas of Avouris, Ayios Antonios of Andritsis and others, while other paintings can still be found in their original locations at the main church of the Monastery of the Virgin Platytera on Corfu and the church of Ayia Aikaterini of Sina in Zakynthos. For the rendering of these compositions he used the work of Koutouzis as his model as well as the works of the Italians and Flemish which were in wide circulation as prints during that period in the Ionian islands. His portraits were also influenced by Koutouzis, and taken together these two can be considered the founders of secular painting, portraiture in particular.