The Betrothal of the Children - Gyzis Nikolaos

Gyzis Nikolaos (1842 - 1901)

The Betrothal of the Children, 1877

Oil on canvas, 103 x 155 cm

Apostolos Chatziargyris Bequest

Inv. Number Π.110
On view Main Building

Having received numerous awards, the “Betrothal of the Children”, which exists in two variations, records a custom from Ottoman times. The parents engaged their children while still at a very young age, perhaps in order to protect them from being abducted by Turks. Arranged in a semi-circle in a village home interior, the merry scene is masterfully captured. In the centre of the painting, the priest has already put the ring around the puzzled boy’s finger, while the little girl is looking down, shying away from the old man’s call to come forward for the ring. The parents and other relatives merrily witness the scene. A man wearing the traditional Greek fustanella kilt is holding the wine vessel, a simple water pumpkin, ready to seal the event with a toast. On the right, the artist has placed a pile of utensils and luscious textiles, offering him ample opportunity to show off his skill in capturing profuse colour and variety in textures, from shiny bronze to silk. Warm gold-red hues and white colour prevail.The work was made after Gyzis’ journey-pilgrimage to Greece and the Orient in 1872-3, along with his friend, compatriot and teacher, Nikephoros Lytras. It records his impressions from the colourful world of the Orient, the rich costumes and customs of the Greek people.