Famous Personalities from Tinos, Cyclades: An island with rich cultural past, Tinos is the birthplace of many renowned artists that contributed a lot to the modern Greek culture. As the island is rich in marble quarries, many marble sculptors originated from Tinos as well as famous Greek painters.
Giannoulis Halepas is the most famous sculptor of modern Greece with a life that balanced between madness and success. He was the son of a famous Tinian marble sculptor and showed his talent in marble sculpture from a very young age. He studied at the School of Fine Arts and after graduation he moved to Munich with a scholarship. During his stay in Munich, some of his best-known works were displayed like the Satyr Playing with Eros, for which he received a prize. In 1875, he returned to Athens where he established his own workshop. The following year, he started to work on his famous sculpture piece The Sleeping Girl, which was made to embellish the grave of Sofia Afentaki, a young girl who died from tuberculosis, at the age of eighteen.
The winter of 1877-78, Halepas suffered a nervous breakdown and started to destroy his works, while he attempted to commit suicide several times. Today, it is said that the reasons for his disease was his urge for perfection, the tiredness from the many hours of work and his love for a young girl whose parents did not allow the marriage between the two. After returning to his homeland, Tinos, he died in winter 1938.
Nikolaos Gyzis was one of the most renowned Greek painters of the 19th century. He received many awards and prizes for his works on painting, copper and wood engraving. He was born in 1842 in Tinos and was the son of a skilful woodworker. In 1850, his family moved to Athens where he later studied in the School of Fine Arts. After graduation, he continued his studies in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and there he met Nikiforos Lytras. In 1872, he returned to Athens and turned his house into a workshop. He produced a sequence of paintings such as the Carnival at Athens and the Arravoniasmata (Ceremonial and Engagement), which are among his famous works.
The works of Gyzis dealt with German as well as Greek themes, and the last were accompanied by a brighter and diverse colour range. Few of his paintings are inspired from the Greek history, the Ottoman era and the War of Independence. Gyzis is one of the few representatives of the famous Munish School, which was the first school of Modern Greek Art. He was deeply religious and showed a great interest for metaphysics which is also demonstrated in his last works. In 1895, he visited Greece for the last time and died in Munich in 1901, after a long fight with leukaemia.
Nikiforos Lytras, an important Greek 19th century painter, applied his innovative teaching skills in the Athens School of Fine Arts, sharing his independent ideas in painting. Lytras was born in 1832 in Pyrgos Tinos, the son of a marble sculptor. His interest was sparked by the observation of his father working the marble and gets a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. There, among others, he deals with historical painting inspired by the ancient Greek mythology and Greek history.
His works focus on the village or city life, reflecting his whole ague and love for the traditional Greek way of life and the simplicity of the Greek household. For 38 years, Lytras maintained his position as a professor of the painting department in the Athens School of Fine Arts, where he successfully transmitted his love and artistic character into a series of famous artists, such as Georgios Iakovidis, Polychronis Lebesis and Nikolaos Vokos.