Miroslav Kraljević
Golgotha, 1912
oil on canvas: 72.1 x 115.3 cm

In his Golgotha from 1912, Miroslav Kraljević situates the main motif of the Crucifixion deep within the scene, highlighting the contorted body of Christ with just a light accent. The foreground is dominated by the deformed figures of soldiers hunched over a game of dice, and the upright Longinus leaning against a lance. The expressiveness of the composition, the ominously bare ambience and the strong colour symbolism make this one of the seminal paintings in Kraljević’s Parisian oeuvre, but also for a new generation of painters that was just being formed in Zagreb.

Miroslav Kraljević hails from a wealthy noble family in Slavonia, who soon after starting his law studies in Vienna decided to switch and study painting in Munich instead. From 1905 to 1910, Josip Račić, Vladimir Becić and Oskar Herman had also been students at the Academy in Munich in the class of Professor Hugo Habermann. What connects painters of this Munich Circle are primarily their orientations towards European modernity, similar starting points and role models. After having graduated from the Munich Academy, Kraljević returned to Požega in 1910. He painted intensively and after having received excellent reviews he moved to Paris in 1911. In Paris he merged all previous artistic experiences with bold exploration of new ideas and styles, and created a number of excellent portraits, self-portraits, genre scenes and vedute. Not even a year later, seriously illness forced him to return home. Having created an oeuvre of the utmost importance for the development of our modern painting, Kraljević died of tuberculosis in Zagreb in 1913, not even 28 years old

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022

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