ΤHE NIKOS SOFIALAKIS CENTER OF NEOCLASSICAL SCULPTURE
1940 - 1950
HOME > THE ARTIST > SHORT BIOGRAPHY > 1940 - 1950
Μother and Child (1947)
Marble of Paros
1st Prize in Sculpture
(El Greco) (1948)
Marble of Penteli
Super scale size
See the statue, Maternity, and the artist at theinauguration of the Alexandras Maternity Hospital (10/12/1954)
The Grekisk Konst Exhibition of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts
and the Cairo International Exhibition
By the close of the 1940s, Sofialakis began to travel and to participate in some of the most noteworthy artistic events of the period, establishing himself as one of the most prominent Greek artists, and perhaps, as art critic G. Marmarides noted, the most "authentic Greek artist of his time". In 1947 Sofialakis participated in two of the most significant, international artistic events of the decade: The Grekisk Konst Exhibition of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts and the Cairo Biennale (Cairo International Exhibition).
Between April and May 1947, Sofialakis presented his works in the prestigious Grekisk Konst Exhibition (Exhibition of Greek Artists) which was organized by the Greek State in collaboration with the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, as a means of raising money for Greece in the wake of World War II. The exhibition was toured the Scandinavian countries and was held in Stockholm, Sweden, Copenhagen, Denmark and Oslo, Norway. Sofialakis' marble high-relief, Mother and Child earned him the first prize in Oslo (of the Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo Exhibitions), and received much coverage by the press that had begun to recognize in him the emerging artist. In the fall of the same year, Sofialakis participated in the Cairo International Exhibition (1947) with the works Defender (which had been inspired and proposed by Nikos Kazantzakis), Babe with Bonnet, and Twins which also received numerous distinctions and which were featured in the print media of the day. Sofialakis returned to Greece, having secured the first stage in his international – and national – recognition as an artist.
By the 1948 Pan-Hellenic Artists Exhibition, Sofialakis’ prominence as a new artist was growing, and his works Mother and Child, Cretan Head, Head of the Aeginitissa Kore, and Babe with Bonnet were well-received by the viewing public. His Mother and Child and Babe with Bonnet were already receiving praise owing to their presentation in international exhibitions, and the Aeginitissa Kore, a Maiden’s head in limestone, was purchased by the National Bank of Greece. His growing popularity led to his being commissioned by the municipality of Herakleion for his El Greco, the super-scale marble bust of the great Cretan painter, Domenikos Theotokopoulos, which was set at Freedom Square (now Domenikos Theotokopoulos Square) in Herakleion, Crete on July 6, 1949.
Recognition and Acclaim
It was not until the 1952 Pan-Hellenic Artists Exhibition at the Zappeion, however, that Sofialakis received his ‘big break’, participating with the pieces Twins, Satyr, Penelope, and Maternity. His marble bust, Twins, was already well known owing to its distinction at the 1947 Cairo Biennale, and his heads Satyr and Penelope received extensive praise, in both, the domestic and foreign press.
It was owing to his masterpiece Maternity, however, that Sofialakis received his great opportunity: the natural-scale statue in black granite, based on the 1944 terracotta study that had earned him the first prize in sculpture, drew the attention of the sovereigns King Paul and Queen Frederica, who, having observed Sofialakis’ works on display, requested a private viewing at his atelier.
This private viewing proved a great success for Sofialakis, who saw his Maternity subsequently purchased by the Bank of Greece in 1952, and who, moreover, was personally selected by the Queen to sculpt her marble portrait, for which she posed in person at his atelier. The Maternity statue and the Queen's bust were set at the Alexandras Maternity Hospital and the Queen’s School of Midwifery [within the Hospital] in 1954, at the behest of Queen Frederica at the inauguration of the nation's first national Maternity Hospital in Athens.
Nikos Sofialakis, at just forty years of age, had established himself as the preferred artist of the archons and important personas of the country. Some of his most celebrated portrait sculpture includes such notable figures as the Prime Ministers Eleftherios Venizelos (195-), Nicholaos Plastiras (1950) and Sophocles Venizelos (1964), Princess Alexandra (1954), and Dr. George Papanikolaou (1962), most of whom sat for him in person at his atelier.
Visit the Archives
Visit the Photogallery