He was raised by his mother, Despoina Kontoglou, and his uncle Stefanos Kontoglou, who was abbot in the nearby monastery of Aghia Paraskevi. He spent his childhood among the monastery, the sea and the fishermen. In 1913, he enrolled at the Athens School of Fine Arts. In 1923, he stayed for some time at the monasteries of Mount Athos, where he discovered the technique of Byzantine iconography.Two years later, he got married with Maria Hatzikambouri, who was also from Aivali.
In 1933, he was invited by the Egyptian government to work for the Copt Museum. However, he decided to stay in Athens and he delivered classes of painting at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Among his students were some of the most important modern Greek painters.
Photis Kontoglou was paid at his work was during his residence in Paris, where he received a prize for the illustrations he made for the work of Knut Hamsun Famine. However, it was his illustrations for his own book, Pedro Kazas, that made him famous.
Kontoglou was a particularly productive artist. A devout Orthodox Christian, he undertook the restoration of the frescos of the Perivleptos church in Mystras. Furthermore, he painted frescos in various churches all around Greece; among them the Kapnikarea church in Athens. He also painted the monumental fresco of the Patriarchs of Constantinople at the town hall of Athens.
The iconography on the dome and other areas of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City was created by Georgios Gliatas, a student of Kontoglou. Kontoglou was also the original iconographer of the main iconography at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity in Charleston, South Carolina.
Kontoglou also wrote various works of literature as well as numerous essays.
Notes and references
- "Cathedral History | Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity". Thecathedralnyc.org. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- "Holy Trinity". placestogoincharleston.com. Places to Go in US: Charleston, SC. 2015. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
- "The Byzantine Church with Father John Panagiotou". YouTube. 2004. Retrieved December 6, 2015.