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Demetrios Galanis (1880–1966) was an early twentieth century Greek artist and contemporary and friend of Picasso. In 1920, the year he completed his `Seated Nude', he exhibited alongside such major figures of modern art as Matisse and Braque, while from 1921 on he also exhibited alongside Juan Gris, Dufy, Chagall and Picasso.
By the early 1920s Galanis was famous in France and preparing for shows in Brussels, London, and New York. In 1920-21 he frequently exhibited in Paris and in 1922 his first one-man exhibition received the enthususiastic critical response that established his reputation. 'Seated Nude' was among the pictures exhibited, and in an introduction to the exhibition André Malraux described the artist's work as "having the power to stir emotions equivalent to that of Giotto."
This show established Galanis’ reputation as a painter and confirmed the favourable opinions already expressed on the quality of his work. Critics of his time paid much more attention to his figurative work than his landscapes, confirming the well-established view that Galanis’ first and foremost concern was his love for the human form.
Galanis received greater critical acclaim abroad in his lifetime than any other Greek modern artist of the early 20th century. The French state honoured him with the highest distinctions: full professor at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris and a lifelong member of the Académie française.
Having moved to Paris in 1900, living close to Montmartre for fifty years in Rue Cortot, Galanis developed his artistic talent beyond painting. He was also known for his illustrative wood engravings in books, such as the Limited Editions Club of Sophocles' Oedipus the King and the Cresset Press edition of John Milton's Paradise Lost. The Limited Editions Club published 1500 signed copies in 1955 and the sister organization, Heritage Press, then reprinted unsigned volumes.
The most significant collection of Galanis' work can be found at the Teloglion Foundation at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, though examples can also be found in London's Tate Gallery. Galanis' most famous Seated Nude sold at auction for $221,860 in May 2006.
Forged signature controversy
In May 2008, one of three Galanis paintings titled Lady in White was removed from an auction scheduled for 20 May in Bonhams' Greek Sale as doubts over the authenticity of the piece caused a stir in the art world. The signature at the bottom right of the painting did not match those of two almost identical paintings with the same title. One in London's Tate Gallery features the artist's signature on the bottom left, one recently sold in Stuttgart has it in the bottom centre.
The version that was due to be auctioned at Bonhams, valued at €64,000-€89,000, bears the artist's signature in black. According to the catalog, it was discovered in Germany by the current owner and is an example of a less well-known period of Galanis' work between 1907 and 1909 when he was working at various German publications. The piece was probably painted between 1909 and 1913.
The version sold in Stuttgart's Nagel Auction fetched only €9,000 because of doubts over the signature. The signature is in orange and with a long tail on the 's' in the surname, which is not on the painting at Bonhams. After a Greek Art expert had examined the painting sold in Germany, he concluded that the signature was made some time after the painting had been finished, leading to speculation that it was a forgery, hence leading to the withdrawal of the Bonhams lot for further investigation.