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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pavle Jovanovic


The fencing lesson
1884
oil on canvas
other detail unknown

Pavle "Paja" Jovanovic (1859-1957) is considered one of Serbia's greatest academic painters. He was a greatly talented, virtuous painter, nationally and internationally very successful, rich, praised and adored, although later in his life his art was criticized and dismissed by some of the 20th century art critics as outdated, dry, staged, detached from real life and a sterile example of the Academic Realism. Whatever the point of view of the scholarly art establishment, the fact is that his art was loved by the people. It has been said that, during a certain period, there was almost no Serbian home that did not have a reproduction on the wall of one of his famous pictures.

He was born in Voivodeship of Serbia and Banat of Temeschwar, Austrian Empire (today Vojvodina province, Serbia). His father was photographer and took him to Vienna in 1875 when he was 15, where he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in 1877 and finished in 1880. Encouraged to visit the Balkan region during his hiatus, he studied the customs and folklore of the people, and in 1882 he was awarded the prize of the Academy and was given the czar scholarship. As early as in 1893 he was proclaimed for the member of the Serbian Royal Academy. He was given the task to make the monumental, historical compositions. After 1905 he devoted himself exclusively to painting the portraits in the style of academic realism for the rich clientele, and he became very famous. In the following period, having noticed greater interest of Europe for the Balkans, he painted mostly scenes from the life of the Albanians, Montenegrins, Herzegovinians, which brought him great reputation. In his long and prolific life, he created a large number of paintings, and although he also gained popularity as the remarkable portraitist, immortalizing many kings and queens, the politicians, the wealthy people and the artists, he is after all best known for his genre-compositions and works with the historical content.