Kontos House - Theofilos Museum
Chatzianastasis mansion, known today as Kontos’ house and Theophilos Museum, is located in Anakasia, northeastern of the central square and more specifically at Theophilos Museum Street, 211.
Originally the mansion was owned by the Chatzianastasis family until 1905, when it was bought by the miller John Kontos from Volos.
Shortly after buying, the new owner undertook several building modernization work to his new residence for its adapting to current architectural trends of the era, which altered significantly the original architectural design of the building. In 1912, after the construction work, began a plan of painted decoration of the lobby on the top floor by the popular painter, Theofilos.
With the earthquake of 1955 to hit the region, the mansion suffered extensive destruction in both the supporting structure and the individual elements and especially in murals, many of which crumbled and fell to the floor.
In 1962, the Ministry of Culture, in order to protect this unique monument in the region, declare it as a "historical monument" and in 1965, it was bought it to use it for archaeological purposes.
In 1966 took place the restoration of the mansion, which was completed in 1967 and then became the maintenance of the murals by specialized teams of the Ministry of Culture.
In 1980, there was a new damage to the building, much less substantial, that gave rise to a new project of construction work of repairing the damage, of maintenance the wall murals and settlement of the surrounding area, executed by the 5th
Conservancy of Modern Monuments of the Ministry of Culture, and so the Mansion acquired its current appearance.
The architecture of the building
The mansion in its original form was a three-storey building, stone-built for the most part, except for the large sections of the top floor, which were made with a lightweight construction (tsatmas).
This lightweight construction protrudes in all directions, outside the stone- outline of the building, creating the known “Sahnisi” of the classical Pelian architecture. It had a fortifying character and maintained, before the repairs of 1905, all those elements that characterize the fortifying residences of the second half of the 18th and the first half of the 19th century in the region of Pelion.
From the subsequent building work to the building, all the debris was deposited in the front yard, so the ground floor to turn into a semi-basement and the main face of the building to lose its castellated character.
The main changes made to the ground floor during the restoration work in 1905, were to shift the stairwell from the hall of the ground floor at the rear of the house and the transfer of the lobby from the left to the right side of the building with a corresponding transfer of winter room.
In the mezzanine were made the most of the changes, with the main ones to be, the removal of the front living room and the forming of a long narrow corridor in the center of the floor plan, at the end of which was transferred the new staircase and the rooms stood either side of the corridor. One of the rooms, the northeast, remodeled into a modern kitchen, and were expanded also all the windows of this level. Also, the central window with the large portcullis became the main entrance of the house with the addition of an external stone-built staircase.
The changes at the top level were much smaller in size and were the shift of the staircase from the front living room, at the end of its narrow vertical section, to in front of this elevated area, while all the colorful plaster skylights over the windows were sealed.
In front of the house and especially in the lower floors were added neoclassical architectural elements, such as the curved coatings of the semi-basement, coatings with streaks on the mezzanine, the decorative strip of coatings between the floors, the window frames and the ornate neoclassical doorframe on the new entrance.
The painted decoration
In 1912 began the painting decoration of the house and specifically that of the lobby on the second floor by Theophilos painter. In this hospitable home of miller Yannis Kontos, Theophilos would find shelter and safety under the protection of the owner and he will create one of his most important and comprehensive works. In the mural that is entitled "Theodore Kolokotronis gathers the victors of Dramalis in 1822 at Lerni Lake," we read his signature and the year of manufacture. This fresco is believed to be his first in the house and then was followed by others, which, according to testimonies of former owners, had been gradually completed and the completion was lasted for a few years.
The painting program of Kontos house is divided into two zones: The lower zone that reaches up to the half around the windows and the top zone that reaching just below the ceiling.
In the lower zone, Theophilos painted various motifs, such as a wide variety of potted flowers and birds, fountains, wild animals and hunting scenes, and on the left of the stairs next to the room door, he painted Yannis Kontos astride his horse.
Then is the upper zone, with 14 large paintings with themes taken from the Greek Revolution of 1821, for which he used as templates, mainly, Peter Fon Ess paintings.
On the four pilasters of the narrow lobby’s corridor, Theophilos painted four Gods of Olympus, Mars, Venus, Mercury and Minerva.
On the blank wall he painted a large landscape of Anakasia and Makrinitsa with Portaria in one side.
In the sections above the windows and doors, he filled the gaps with paintings similar to those of the lower section, like potted flowers and birds, royal hunting, various reptiles etc. The painting work of Kontos house and by extension, the whole painter's work of this period in Volos is strongly influenced by the Byzantine art, since the painter took his first lessons from his grandfather, Konstantis Zografos, who was one of the most known hagiographer in the island.
This influence appears in the sharp gradations of dark and bright colors that give us a work completely different from that of the period in Mytilene, where he was using more halftones and it was considered by many of his scholars as more mature.