French sailing ship in the open sea, 1875
Son of the Italian painter Saverio Altamura and of the first Greek woman painter, Eleni Boukoura, Ioannis Altamouras continued his studies, after the Athens School of Fine Arts, with a scholarship at the Academy of Fine Arts of Copenhagen, where he served an apprenticeship with Soerensen as his professor. During his time there he came into contact with the new plein air and pre-Impressionist trends which made their appearance during the second half of the nineteenth century, and absorbed the features characteristic of them. He was the first Greek painter to concern himself exclusively with seascape. Views of the ports and coast of Denmark were the basic sources of his inspiration. As a member of the group of artists of the city of Skeen, he painted with them in the surrounding area, attempting, with them, to capture, by the direct observation provided by in situ painting the picture of a constantly mutating nature at a given moment in time. He distanced himself from any narrative description of the object and, thus liberated, studied the transformation of the atmosphere or of the sea through the alternations of light at the specific moment.
In French Sailing-Ship in the Open Sea, a sailing-ship with all its sails spread is shown in the dark blue-green sea of the North. In spite of the fact that in this work the structure is more classical, the undulation of the dark sea gives the artist the occasion to depict the play of the light on the waves.