The Artist’s Familly – Allegory of the Fine Arts and Liberal Arts - Kounelakis Nikolaos

Kounelakis Nikolaos (1829 - 1869)

The Artist’s Familly – Allegory of the Fine Arts and Liberal Arts, 1864-1865

Oil on canvas, 94 x 73 cm

Donated by the National Technical University

Inv. Number Π.476
On view Main Building

There is an allegory concealed in this family portrait. The painter lived in Florence, where the echo of a literary debate concerning the respective merit of the Liberal and the Fine Arts was still alive: Were the Fine Arts (painting, sculpture, architecture) equal to the noble Liberal Arts? The painter proposed his own answer in this painting, in which the Fine Arts exist side by side with the Liberal Arts. The artist himself becomes the symbol of the art of painting; the dome of the Florence Cathedral, shown depicted in the painting within the painting, suggests architecture, while invoking at the same time the city in which the artist lived. The bust of a classical Muse on the left suggests sculpture. These three fine arts coexist with poetry (symbolised by the small book held by the artist’s mother in law, Euphemia Kambani), while his wife, Zoe Kambani is writing down musical notes, suggesting music. Of excellent arrangement, the composition is inspired by Renaissance models. Gravely suffering from tuberculosis, Zoe Kambani was to perish soon afterwards.