Anton (Toni) Aron
(1858 ili 1859 – 1920)
Croatian Peasant Leading His Blind Daughter, 1888
oil on canvas
137.8x101.2 cm

Anton Aron was born in Osijek where he spent his childhood, while he began his art education at the Festőművészeti Akadémia in Budapest, which he then continued at the Königliche Bayrische Akademie der bildenden Künste in Munich. In Munich, he studied painting intermittently between 1877–1878 and 1881–1883. Aron will remain living in Germany – in Munich and Leipzig, where he will mostly paint portraits, genre-scenes and still lifes. However, the painter is indirectly present in Croatia throughout this time – specifically, in Osijek and Zagreb, where he exhibited works related to our region.
Aron’s painting is characterised by a deep understanding of the painting métier, as a result of his education at the Munich Academy. His paintings have a predominantly dark gallery tone with many additional umber earthen colours and a solid modelling based on confident drawing and precise realistic observation. His work is occasionally executed routinely. At times there is also an affectation in composing the genre-scene that he creates in multiple variants. Such is the motif of a blind young woman being led by her elderly father that he repeats several times. He found this motif particularly interesting because it enabled a kind of escape into Orientalism by painting folk costumes which was typical of painting at the time. The costumes on the figures will vary, and they will sometimes be Croatian, sometimes Hungarian, and most often an incoherent sum of different folklore elements.
The museum painting Croatian Peasant Leading His Blind Daughter from 1888 is one of several paintings by Aron with a similar motif – a young woman with her eyes closed being accompanied by an older man. The characters emerge from a dark background, with somewhat artificial gestures. Both figures are in folk costumes, which the painter will use to portray the details in a realistic and precise manner. The costumes were probably painted from memory because different ethnographic elements form a heterogenous whole. The luminous flesh tones of the girl’s face and hands is in contrast with the heavy clothing. The entire scene displays the artist’s enviable painting métier.

Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, museum advisor 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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