Architect Lysandros Kaftantzoglou was the very successful director of the School of Arts from 1844 to 1862. Moreover, he was the one who designed and built the Technical University. Nikephoros Lytras painted his portrait from a photograph, shortly after the architect’s death.
Serious and contemplative, the great architect is sitting slightly turned to the side in a luxurious easy chair, over which he has thrown his greatcoat with a certain nonchalance. He is facing the viewer but is in fact gazing towards infinity. The artist perhaps intended to suggest in this manner the scholar’s recent death. Nikephoros Lytras here proves himself a penetrating psychologist, true to his own saying that, “the portraitist must draw from his sitters what they feel in the depths of their souls.” The architect is holding a small book, his index finger marking the page on which reading was interrupted. His right hand rests on a table, on which are scattered bits of paper and other items, splendidly captured.
The painting is made in broad, assured brush strokes, with a gentle palette of brown-red, along with grey-green, ochre, black and some white. Note the red scarf in the pocket of the greatcoat on the chair. With its monumental size, this painting is one of the most imposing portraits in the 19th century.