Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Slava Raskaj

The deer on the front
other detail unknown

Slava Raskaj (1877-1906) was a painter considered to be the greatest Croatian watercolorist of the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1890s her works were exhibited around Europe, including at the 1900 Expo in Paris. In her twenties she was diagnosed with acute depression and was institutionalised for the last three years of her life before dying in 1906 from tuberculosis in Zagreb.

She was born in the family of the local administrator, and her name Slava means Glory in Croatian. Being deaf ever since her birth, due to the difficulties in communication, she gradually withdrew from people, but not before her talent was noticed. Until the age of fifteen, she lived in an institution for deaf children in Vienna, Austria. Back home, in 1895, persuaded by a local teacher, she left for Zagreb to attend the art school.  Under the influence of an art instructor she kept developing in the area of painting and drawing. Old abandoned mills, depth of the canyon of Kupa river, ruins started to be the focus of her mind. Soon, unfortunate first symptoms of the disease started to show up - loneliness, alienation, need for privacy and nature. In 1902, due to chronic depression, aggression and other psychological symptoms she was institutionalised. She died March 29, 1906. The value of her work was largely overlooked by art historians in the following decades, but in the late 1990s and early 2000s interest in her work was revived.