The Atheist, before 1903
Although a self-taught painter, Nikolaos Alektoridis by his work revealed himself as an artist with wide-ranging knowledge, which was probably due to the education which he received in Constantinople and his contacts with the Italian painter Fausto Zonaro, from whom he received some lessons in painting. In spite of the fact that Alektoridis, in his genre painting, mythological or religious compositions makes use of the teachings of the Munich School, in his landscapes and seascapes an impressionistic mood is apparent in the rendering of the subject by means of strong, bright colours.
The Atheist or The Death of an Atheist is a genre painting composition in which the distress of the dying man is represented in a manner familiar from related scenes in the Romantic painting of the nineteenth century. The books and papers scattered on the floor, on one of which the old man's creed - 'There is no god' - can be seen, as well as the symbols of death and the vanity of this world which are defined by the skull and the clock on the shelves of the bookcase bear witness to the artist's broader culture and knowledge, and his familiarity with the questionings of his time - the late nineteenth century. The old man, wearing a white shift, lies in the bed, looking anxiously at the black-clad priest who is at his side in his last moments. The light, which comes from some source on the left of the picture, by the sharp contrasts which it creates, lends a dramatic character to the composition. As it falls strongly on the head of the priest, on the dying man, and on the books on the floor which testify to his convictions, it brings out the essence of the subject, which is the fear of the atheist when faced with death, and his repentance. At the same time, the black robes of the priest and of his assistant, who stands behind him, and the dark heavy curtain by the bed suggest a sense of mourning.