Saturday, September 13, 2014

Vlaho Bukovac

Gundulic's Dream
oil on canvas
185 x 310 cm
Private collection

Vlaho Bukovac (1855-1922), a Croatian painter. He was born in the town of Cavtat south of Dubrovnik in Dalmatia. His father was an Italian from Genoa, while his mother was of Croatian descent. He painted casual pictures, using liberated strokes of the brush, in the pointillist technique. His life and work were eclectic, for the artist pursued his career in a variety of locales and his style changed greatly over the course of that career.

He showed inclination to drawing in his early childhood, but because of his family's poverty he could not continue his education. At the age of eleven his uncle took him to the United States, where he spent four hard years. His uncle soon died. In 1871, he returned to Dubrovnik and embarked as an apprentice on a merchant ship that sailed on regular line Istanbul- Odessa-Liverpool. In 1873 he went to Latin America, where he worked as a letter drawer in a coach factory in Peru. Three years later he returned to Cavtat. He found a sponsor in the person of Medo Pucic, a poet who recommended him to the archbishop Strossmayer, a very famous and influential Croatian at that time. Thanks to Strossmayer's financial support and his own savings he could begin his career in France, where he entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts. His fashionable paintings achieved great success at the Paris Salon.

He became a significant representative of fine arts in Zagreb, Croatia from 1893 to 1897, bringing with him the spirit of French art. He introduced pointillism to the Prague Academy, and earned his historical reputation as an excellent pedagogue. In his time in Zagreb, he became a leader at many important cultural and artistic events. He founded the Zagreb multicoloured school, helped initiate the construction of the Art Pavilion, and organized the first artistic exhibition in the Academy Palace in 1893. He died in Prague. His work comprises about 400 portraits, and more than 150 other paintings and compositions.