Portrait of Pavlos Melas, c.1905
Georgios Iakovidis, first Director of the National Gallery and Director of the School of Fine Arts, was established by his multi-faceted oeuvre as one of the leading figures in modern Greek art in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. From his early years at the Athens School of Fine Arts he pursued a course of constant quests and exploratory thinking. In assimilating the principles of painting into which he was initiated by his teacher in Athens Nikiphoros Lytras, he fruitfully absorbed the various trends which had taken shape at the Munich Academy when he arrived there in 1878, trends which ranged between realism and idealism. From the purely genre painting subjects of the years of his apprenticeship in Athens, he moved on initially to depictions of mythological subjects - in which the character of the school of Von Piloty dominated - before arriving at the painting which is characteristic of him, with scenes from children's and family life.
The Portrait of Pavlos Melas is one of the portraits of the hero of the Macedonian Struggle painted by Iakovidis. Melas is shown in the uniform of a Greek officer, leaning on his sword, and with an unyielding manner. His facial expression shows resolution and faith in the struggle which he has undertaken, and in which he sacrificed his life. His stance denotes nobility and lofty ideals, while his whole appearance is rendered with the greatest possible idealisation.