Karl August Krazeisen (1794 - 1878) was one of the many volunteers who took part in Hellenic revolution of 1821 against the Turks and their allies. In Hellas , the volunteers that stand in the side of Hellas are called Philhellenes (Click the word to see more info). What makes Karl A. Krazeisen special is that except an officer , he was also a very good artist. A painter that in the pauses between the battles, he was asking and finally managed to make many portraits from the most known Hellenic warriors and fighters of that time.
For more about his life and pictures of this portraits click HERE
Also , here is parts from an interview in a local newspaper that the curator of the National Gallery speak about K.A. Krazeisen and his works during an exhibition that took place in Hellas in 2005.
What are you presenting in the Nafplion exhibition?
The portraits of the 1821 war heroes, lots of portraits of
philhellenes, poets, writers, as well as drafts of ethological scenes
in Aegina and Ambelakia.
Kratzeisen also drew the two new vessels that had been acquired by the
Greek fleet at a difficult time: the frigate Hellas and the steamship
Karteria. The officer himself never signed his works, which means that
had his family not decided to sell them to Greece, we would not have
known who the artist was. His signature appears only on works he drew
in 1931 in Munich. More specifically, Kratzeisen's brother-in-law
offered to sell the works which he had held on to, aware of their
great worth. He was a professor of Romanian descent who decided to
approach [[Nikolaos] Gyzis, who was also a professor in Munich. When
the painter saw the works, he immediately realized that they had to be
acquired by the Greek state.
Are there any portraits of our independence heroes by other artists?
Kratzeisen was the only one who depicted the freedom fighters. The
difference is clear if one sees the works of other artists who had
imagined the war heroes based on related readings. [The freedom
fighters] Odysseus Androutsos, Papaflessas and Marcos Botsaris all
qualify for this category, as they had already died and weren't
depicted by the Bavarian but by other artists who tried to imagine
what they looked like. In his well-known painting «Grateful Greece,»
Gyzis presented a series of freedom fighters based on Kratzeisen's
works, as well as other figures who are the result of his imagination.
What kind of a character was Kratzeisen?
He lived and grew up during the romantic period of liberation
movements. Although we don't know too much about his artistic
education, we do know that he drew all the time. He had also served as
a fashion designer for the Russian army, meaning he designed its
attire. Kratzeisen joined the army, a vocational choice that offered
security, considering that, historically, this was the post-Napoleonic
era. A Bavarian, but also a philhellene, he decided to come to Greece
and fight on the side of the struggling populace. He took off with an
expeditionary force established by the Bavarian leader Ludwig I. The
force's objective was to train Greece's new army. It is certain that
he was intelligent and had grasped that he was living an historic
moment. He must have been on the alert constantly, and both drew and
took part in battles.
He made the fighters sign the portraits?
The signatures are a sign of authenticity. They also show who was
better educated by the way they signed their names.The signatures also made it to the lithographs, providing historians with information. [Georgios] Karaiskakis, for example, died before
Kratzeisen managed to complete his portrait.In it, one can see that he suffered from tuberculosis and was downcast. But his gaze remained intense and Kratzeisen depicts him
with fiery eyes.
Apart from the drawings, did the Bavarian leave behind any writings?
He didn't leave us any memoirs and didn't keep notes... Kratzeisen's hand does not make mistakes. He had a good eye and talent.
He portrays the individuals, not the battles, knowing that portraits enchant and condense history.
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