Portrait of Avgerinos M. Averoff, c.1860
Dionysios Tsokos received his first lessons in painting in his native Zakynthos, in the studio of Nikolaos Kantounis, and continued his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, where, during the period 1844 - 1847, he studied painting under the professor Ludovico Lipparini, who had a definitive influence on his development as an artist. Tsokos was one of the first Greek artists to concern himself with historical painting, within the context of an idyllic, romantic landscape, as that had been shaped by the Philhellenic movement. After his return to Greece in 1847, Tsokos settled in Athens, where he was employed chiefly on portraits of prominent figures in the then up-and-coming bourgeois society of Athens.
The work Portrait of Avgerinos M. Averoff shows the brother of the great public benefactor Georgios Averoff, a Member of Parliament for a number of years (1850 - 1875). Both the age of the subject and the way his figure has been elaborated demonstrate that this work was among the last that the artist painted. In spite of the fact that the artist is working within the framework of academic realism - formal pose of the figure, heavy colours, correctness of design - in order to portray his subject's personality with a calm look, yet one which is full of self-confidence, the use of colour tones which are warmer than in earlier compositions and the avoidance of harsh contrasts in the rendering of the details lends a lyrical and emotional atmosphere to the portrait.