Manolis Calliyannis

The Mountain Opposite II


Not on display

Manolis Calliyannis 1923–2010
Original title
La Montagne en face II
Tempera and oil paint on canvas
Support: 597 × 806 mm
Purchased 1956

Catalogue entry

Manolis Calliyannis born 1923

T00089 La Montagne en Face II (The Mountain Opposite II) 1955-6

Inscribed 'MANOLIS CALLIYANNIS' b.r. and '25 P. MANOLIS CALLIYANNIS | "LA MONTAGNE EN FACE II", 1956['7' in circle]' on back
Egg-tempera with oil on canvas, 23 1/2 x 31 3/4 (60 x 80.5)
Purchased from the artist through Les Arts Plastiques Modernes, Paris, (Grant-in-Aid) 1956
Repr: The Tate Gallery: Report 1956-7 (London 1957), between pp.56 and 57

Calliyannis told the compiler on 9 May 1958 that he had a one-man show at Gimpel Fils in London in March 1955 of abstract or near-abstract paintings with large blocks of very pale colours, and on the proceeds returned to Lesbos for a holiday. It was the first time he had been back to Greece since 1940, and the beauty of the landscape seemed quite overwhelming. Though he had not come with any intention of painting, he decided to attempt a few watercolours of the landscape and bought himself a box of watercolours and some paper. Then, wishing later to try his hand at oil painting as well, he hired the local carpenter to make three stretchers and set to work: the oils included this picture and 'The Mountain Opposite I', another version of the same subject. He brought all these back with him on his return to Paris in November. The greater part of the Tate Gallery picture was done in 1955, but the finishing touches were added in Paris the following spring.

'The Mountain Opposite II' shows a mountain in front of the artist's house in Lesbos and was painted in a friend's garden in front of the motif. It was therefore one of the very few oil paintings (only four or five altogether) which he had actually executed in Greece. His practice since then had been to spend the summer and autumn months in Lesbos making watercolour notations of the landscape from which he afterwards carried out oil paintings in his studio in Paris. He had painted this particular mountain many times, from a variety of positions: it is a hillside with olive trees and poplars. He likes this picture and regards it as very important in his development, but says that it is a little clumsy - for instance, he didn't know at this stage how to treat the poplars in the centre of the composition and ended by more or less leaving them out.

The companion picture 'The Mountain Opposite I' (coll. Sir John Sainsbury, London) is of the same dimensions and very similar in composition. It differs chiefly in being darker in tone, with a predominance of brownish ochres and blue-greys. It was reproduced in Cahiers d'Art, 1960, p.227 under the incorrect title 'The Mountain Opposite II'.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.93-4, reproduced p.93


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