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Corfu, as a crossroad of peoples and cultures played an important part, keeping the balances between the development of art in the East and the West. Painting is the only field where this assimilation of the two worlds is so evident .
We need to take into account that painting from the 15th to the 18th centuries is mainly , if not exclusively, religious and it therefore bears the ifluence of the conflict between the two creeds , as it has got features of the religious iconography of both churches .
Through paintings of a high artistic and esthetic value we can today trace the evolution of painting and the generation of currents, like the Ionian School .
In the mid 17th century became more intense the move of the gradual abandonment of the strict Byzantine school, in both the themes and the manner . Egg-based paint was gradually replaced by oil-paint , the themes became more and more secular and the manner abandoned the strict Byzantine lines. Panagiotis Doxaras (1662–1729), with his work « About Painting », in 1726, changes the fixed reference points.
1811 was the year of the foundation in Corfu of the fisrt Greek Fine Arts School by the important Corfiot painter Pavlos Prosalendis , which shows the level of the artistic life. This was the starting point of the so called Ionian School , whish was the predominant Greek artistic movement from the 17th till the mid 19th century.
Some important painters followed him:
Born in Crete and died in Venice. He left Crete in 1646 , two years before the last siege of Chandax, going to Venice. He stopped in Corfu, where he spent 9 years of his life, until 1655 . You can see his work at the Byzantine church of Agios Iasonas and Sosipatros , at the church of Panagia Faneromeni (of the foreigners) , at the Byzantine Museum , at the church of Agios Nikolaos and at the monastery of Panagia Platytera .
A Cretan painter whi lived in Corfu in the second half of the 17th century . His icons can be seen at the Byzantine Museum , at the Monastery of Panagia Platytera , at the chirch of the Vorgin Mary at Kassiopi and at the church of Agios Nikolaos at Viros .
Konstantinos Kantarinis - Stephanos Dzangarolas
Representatives of the painting which was developed in the late 17th and the early 18th century . Some of their works can be found at the Byantine Museum , the church of Agia Ekaterini , at the Orthodox Cathedral and at the church of Panagia Faneromeni (Of the foreigners) .
Panagioti Doxaras (1662–1729)
He lived and died in Corfu. He is considered to be the founder of a school known as the Ionian School of Painting, which separated iconography from its Byzantine bonds. Doxaras introduced to the Greek iconography the technique of oil paint , which replaced the old technique of the mixing of colors with thw yolk of an egg . His most important piece of work was the decoration of the ceiling of the church of Agios Spyridon in 1727, which has not been preserved.
Charalambos Pachis (1844–1891)
A teacher of the Fine Arts School. He is considered to be one of the most important landscapes painters of the Ionian School of Painting.
He specialised in aquarelle (water paint). Many of his artpieces have been bought by galleries and collectors from Greece and abroad . Most of his art pieces have a unique representation of the landscapes of Corfu and he is considered to be one of the best painters of aquarelle .
His work is limited to portraits . Some of his art pieces are at the Town Hall , in churches and at the Municipal Gallery.
He is famous for his portraits and he is considered to be a wodnerful representative of his art in Greece. He was also a really sensitive engraver and his lithographs are outstanding products of this sensitive and difficult art.
He was born in Kefallonia in 1819 but he lived and died in Corfu . He is considered to be one of the first artists to practise the art of engraving in Greece .
Today, someone can find many art pieces painted by Michael Damaskinos (the big iconography of the Cretan School), Emmanuel Lambardos , Geogrios Kotzias , Angelos Kritikos, Ieremias Palladas and Georgios Kortezas in many churches of the island and in the Byzantine Museum of Corfu.
Other painters who lived and worked in Corfu the same period are: Alexandros Trivolis - Pieris, Panagiotis Paramythiotis , Giorgos Chrysoloras , Spyridon Sperantsas , Spyridon Ventouras , Nikolaos Koutouzis and Nikolaos Kantounis .
The Reading Society of Corfu was founded in 1836 and its first President was Petros Vrailas-Armenis , a professor of the Ionian Academy and later on a philosopher , a politician and a diplomat .
It has got a historic library (7.000 volumes) with rare manuscripts, engravings, photographs, old documents, old maps and paintings, as well as a general library (50.000 volumes), which also serves as a reading room.
It is situated at Mouragia region, Kapodistriou street, next to the Kapodistrias Palace.
From ancient times Corfu is connected to music and it maintains a rich and everlasting musical tradition . From minstrel Dimodokos , who sang in honor of Ulysses , as is mentioned by Homer in Odyssey( 3000 BC) to the San Giacomo theater, which housed opera performances for the very first time in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean and to the creation of the first music band "Philharmonic Society of Corfu" ( 1840 ) to this day, music is a predominant form of art, closely connected to the soul and the history of the people of Corfu and Paxos . Music is everywhere. At the festivals , the cobbled streets , the fields and the olive groves , the houses , as well as in the accent of the Corfiot people. Joy, sorrow and everyday speech abound with rhythm .
The Philharmonic Bands of Corfu are a unique world phenomenon as regards the ratio of number bands to population ’ . The founding of the philharmonic bands took place following the trend of the creation of popular clubs and societies which took place in Europe after the Industrial revolution, especially in the 19th century and was introduced in cosmopolitan Corfu through the local youth who studied in universities in Europe, as well as by merchants . This phenomenon was intensified in the 20th century, based on economic development, a trend to imitate and a kind of localisms, deriving from the idiosyncratic composition of the population of Corfu of groups of economic and politican immigrants. Nowadays, a population of 110.000 people all over Corfu are educated by 19 philharmonic bands , who support musical education through their schools , as well as through their presence at celebrations and festivals, both in Corfu and in other places.
In 1811 was founded in Corfu the first university faculty of Fine Art in Greece, by the important Corfiot painter Pavlow Prosalendis. Part of the Fine Art School was the Faculty of Civil Architecture with top professor Gerasimos Pitsamanos (1782- 1825). This was the school where the first Greek certified architects studied , who later worked in the Ionian islands and in other parts of Greece, too.
Samples of their work can be found scatterred in Corfu town, Gaios of Paxos and in some villages.
Some of the buildings worth seeing
Building of the Ionian Bank (Iroon Square) : It was built around 1846 in one of the few big squares of the center of the town, which used to be known as the "Square of the Wells" and is now known as "Plakada of Saint Spyridon" . It is one of the important workpieces of the architect I. Chronis
Ricci Mansion at 15, Moustoxydou Street ( Strada Larga) : It is one of the most interesting mansions in Corfu town of the Venetian period (possibly of the 17th century ). Originally it had two floors. Its most typical feature is the arched ground floor with an elegant row of arches, orned on top with statues of heads of men and women , which refer to the decoration of the Loggia
Cobici Mansion (1680) at 43, N. Theotoki St.– 49 (Calle d’ Erbe) : It was built downtown, facing the church of Agios Vassileios . It has got a typical arch at the ground floor which is common for most of the buildings of the same street and which is the main feature of the commercial stores of the town. According to the iscription it bears on the side, it was built in 1680 by Daniel Cobici and it was reformed in 1728; afterwards, it was also modified several times