Georgios Bonanos lived in a period of transition for modern Greek sculpture. It was a time when a number of artists had begun abandoning neoclassical styles and subject matter in favor of realism.
“Nana” is a daring composition, inspired by Emile Zola’s novel of the same name. It displays the influence of this particular literary work on Greek art as well as Bonanos’ shift towards realistic subject matter. Nonetheless, the rendition remains neoclassical. The marble surface is highly refined and the heroine is depicted nude with a tranquil face that is almost indifferent to her body’s sensual pose.
Bonanos showed this work in 1900 at the Paris Exhibition, where it won the bronze medal. In 1938 he exhibited it in the Panhellenic exhibition at the Zappeion in Athens. Bold for its time, it provoked considerable debate. At any rate, the sculptor later changed the title to “Huntress”. This change was probably due to Bonanos’ Hellenocentric ideology, but also could have been his attempt to avoid scandal. Nonetheless, the dog, the lion’s skin, and the bow and quiver associate the young woman with Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, “mistress” and “enchantress” of animals, who here becomes the temptress of men.