The Port of Volos, c. 1890
Constantinos Volanakis is among the great Greek painters of the nineteenth century. He too was a pupil of Von Piloty, and shaped his art within the context of the School of Munich. After graduation, he remained in the Bavarian capital until 1883, when he returned to Greece and taught at the School of Fine Arts. He engaged almost exclusively in seascapes. His works are marked by the breadth of his thought on various problems, both in his meticulous observation of the sea and in his detailed rendering of vessels, harbours, and coastlines. Free studies with an impressionistic approach and a genuine apprehension of the outdoor world alternate with tightly structured and austere depictions which follow Dutch models. His systematic involvement with the sea resulted in his being described as the father of Greek seascape. Volanakis's connection with the city of Volos and with Mount Pelion is well known from his biographies. The commercial firm in Trieste where he worked as an accountant from 1856 belonged to Georgios Afentoulis, who came from Zagora on Pelion, and the latter's niece Phani married Volanakis in 1875.
In the work The Port of Volos, one of the many variations on this theme, Volanakis gives us a picture of the harbour by night, in which strollers in the moonlight enjoy their a visit to the quay, either on foot or in carriages. On the left at the top, a horse-drawn wagon moves on the lines, while at sea, a large ship dominates the scene, with a few smaller ones on the left. A leading role in the composition is played by the depictions of the vessels, as - bathed in the light of the moon - they bring out the detailed description to which Volanakis resorted for the rendering of his 'shipscapes'. In spite of the fact that the colour scale is limited because it is night, the sharp contrast between dark and moonlit parts gives a Romantic character to the work and a calmness which is often encountered in his seascapes.