Portrait of Queen Sofia, 1915
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.
Iakovidis had the Portrait of Queen Sophia in his possession in the vain hope of selling it in order to solve his financial problems. We are told in the bibliography that he painted the Queen's portrait in 1917, as a commission from the War Ministry. Either the Ministry never took delivery of the portrait which it had ordered, and Iakovidis pre-dated for his own reasons, or the picture has nothing to do with that commission, and was a portrait which for unknown reasons never reached the Palace. In this picture, which was painted ten years after the Portrait of Pavlos Melas, Iakovidis attempted a more complex composition, introducing certain features which he believed would give the work a more modern form. Following the manner of depicting the figure known from earlier portraits, he allows the light - which comes from a specific direction - to bring out the face, the bust, and the sumptuous garments of the Queen. At the same time, by means of the opening on the left on to the balcony, the view of the Acropolis, and the violet gleams of the twilight, he has attempted, albeit by suggestion, to give a picture of the open air.