Easter, which in Greek is called “Pascha”, commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and it is along with his Nativity and The Dormition of the Mother of God one of the three Great Feasts for the Eastern Orthodoxy. In fact, Pascha, is considered the Feast of the Feasts.
What makes Easter so great and important is the optimistic message that the Resurrection carries, which is none other than that of life’s victory over death.
It is for this reason that the Greeks use to call it, also, by the popular name of “Lambri”, which means “Brilliant”.
This joyful message of the coming of the brilliant and immortal spring could not but inspire the world of art. Many Greek Painters have, actually, included in their work themes from the rituals and traditions related to the Passion of Christ.
So, let me introduce you to my favorite Easter Greek paintings. Through them you can join the spirit of the Holy Week, as we celebrate it here through the years.
The above painting of Apostolos Geralis is dedicated to the Easter’s highly symbolic tradition of dyeing eggs red and it presents a young woman in this particular action.
The red color represents the blood of Christ, but this is not the only hidden symbolism behind the tradition. The hard shell of the egg is considered to symbolize the sealed Tomb of Christ. Its cracking refers to the Resurrection of Jesus, meanwhile the white part of the egg symbolizes the new eternal life.
The woman is placed at the center of the scene. She has a red towel on her lap and she is carefully dyeing an egg with a paintbrush. She is sitting on a bench with her feet on a stool, in order to bring her lap more closely to her and thus facilitate her work.
The painter has gathered close to her all the necessary materials, placing to her right the dyes and lubricant oils for the final touch and to her left two bowls: one with the eggs that are ready and another with the eggs still left to be dyed.
The dominant colors on the painting are those of red and white in order to much the colors of the eggs. The tiny white egg is deliberately placed on a red surface, in order to make it easier for the viewer to distinguish it at the center of the painting.
The expression of the woman shows seriousness and concentration in her work and the whole scene exudes serenity and tranquility!
The painting is currently exhibited in the Municipal Gallery of Athens.
This painting by Nikiforos Lytras is also dedicated to the Egg of Easter. The image shows a girl sitting on a stool and unpeeling a red dyed egg.
It must have been very challenging for the painter to magnetize the viewer’s eye into such a small main theme, the egg, yet the result confirms his artistic skills.
To achieve this, Lytras has placed the Easter egg at the very center of the painting over the large surface of the girl’s red skirt. Thus, he enhances the color impression of the egg´s red and intensifies the brightness of its color.
Moreover, the artist has spread elements of the egg – fallen red shells – on other points of the painting, such as the girl’s lap and also on the floor. This way he achieves to multiply the existence of the egg within the painting.
Another trick that Lytras uses in a masterful way, exactly as Geralis did at the previous painting, is the repetition of the dominant colors of the egg – red and white – all over the painting.
The scene is full of action: The girl holds the egg softly, yet firmly in her left hand, while with the right hand she delicately peels it, being very focused in trying to keep it intact. She seems anxious to eat it, something that lets us suppose that the action takes place after the Resurrection – since, according to the Orthodox belief it is forbidden to consume animal products during fasting, which ends with the Resurrection.
Lytras is not just depicting the action of the egg’s peeling. He is actually applying the symbolism of the Easter egg, as previously explained.
… to be continued