Anka Bestall
In the Studio, 1913
pencil, tempera on paper
63.2 x 52.5 cm

Anka Bestall (1861–1946) studied painting at the School of Crafts in Zagreb and then at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, which she attended from 1900 to 1906, as the first of a series of Croatian paintresses. She worked as a drawing teacher at the School of Crafts and the Girls’ College in Zagreb. During her lifetime she staged solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions. The painting In the Studio from 1913 was acquired for the Modern Gallery at the Retrospective Exhibition of Croatian Women Painters 1800–1914, held in Zagreb during 1938.

The extremely successful composition of Anka Bestall’s In the Studio is familiar to the contemporary observer because of the usage of mixed media, predominantly pencil in depicting the studio and tempera in rendering the painter’s full figure in sideview, dressed in work clothes and the window overlooking the exterior in the upper right quarter of the painting. Thus, the colouristic accent of the artist’s figure and the window in pastel tones stand out among the beige and grey tones of the whole, becoming a kind of “composition within a composition” of an abstract motif. The subtle and convincing drawing of the whole is as delicate as a cobweb, revealing such a typical, female style.

Tekst: Ivana Rončević Elezović, 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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