Christos, the Black Guy - Vitsaris Ioannis

Vitsaris Ioannis (1843 - 1892)

Christos, the Black Guy, 1874

Painted plaster, 57,8 x 36,3 x 39 cm

Gift of Efi Dardoufa

Inv. Number Π.13365
On view National Glyptotheque

Ioannis Vitsaris studied at the School of Arts and completed his education in Munich. Despite his neoclassical education, returning from Munich in 1871, he engaged in realistic compositions, both in terms of content and style, often much bolder than those of Dimitrios Filippotis, who was the first to introduce realistic themes into modern Greek sculpture.

“Christos, the Black Guy” belongs to this category. Christos was a characteristic figure of Athens, who lived mainly on the streets and died in 1886. He was especially beloved, while he was a model in works by the painters Nikephoros Lytras and Nikolaos Gyzis.

Vitsaris made the work in 1874, with a very realistic style, which is reflected in the posture of the body and the rendering of details, while the painted plaster creates the impression of dark skin. In 1875 he presented it at the Olympia exhibition, where he won the bronze medal. But despite the award, it was described by the critics as an “unfortunate idea”. Despite the negative reception, however, “Christos, the Black Guy” is an exceptional, and early, sample of realism in modern Greek sculpture, without concessions in the neoclassicist direction.