The father of seascapes
- Volanakis was originally an accountant, whose unstoppable yearning for art earned the financial support of his employer. That’s, who funded a trip to Münich where the artist studied under von Piloty.
- The painter’s life was plagued by poverty, which he alleviated as best he could by working as a teacher or cooperating with a framer. In part, his poverty was due to his decision to return to Greece instead of staying on in Münich.
- For all that he was an academic realist, Volanakis was not a portraitist, and this freed him to devote himself to the sort of thing he really liked to depict: seascapes, ships and harbours. His painting The Sea Battle of Lissa (currently in the Budapest fine art Museum), won a contest sponsored by the Austrian Kaiser. The reward of 1000 gold forint and free cruises on Austrian ships for 3 years strengthened his artistic direction.
- His most famous work is “Burning of the Turkish Ship”, currently located at the nautical museum of Pireus. The same subject has been painted by others (like Lytras), and Volanakis differs from them in that the focus remains on the ship, not the individuals that participated in the battle.