Josip Franjo Mὔcke
(1821 - 1883)
Portrait of Marijana Jakabffy, 1871
oil on canvas, 52.4x42cm
Josip Franjo Mὔcke (1821 - 1883) is one of those foreign academic painters who felt at home in Croatia, but who did not stay forever. In 1875, he returned to his native Pécs. During his seventeen-year stay in Slavonia and Zagreb, with occasional breaks because of painting commissions in Austria and Hungary, he created numerous portraits thanks to his ability to connect with major art patrons in Croatia at that time, the nobility and the clergy.
After having graduated from the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, which prioritised the painting of portraits, historical and religious compositions, he came to Slavonia in the early 1850s. Together with landscape painters Hugo von Hὂtzendorf and Adolf Waldinger and portrait painters Franjo Pfalz, Franjo Giffinger and Ivan Moretti, he formed the first authentic art group in Croatia, the Osijek Painting Circle. In 1865, he moved to Zagreb and set-up a painting studio which would be attended, among other students, by Ferdo Quiquerez (1845-1893) and Mὔcke’s daughter Marijana. In addition to several early representative portraits of members of the Eltz family, Mὔcke’s portraits have all the characteristics of the late Biedermeier, gradually moving towards Realism, even when he paints the portraits of noblemen. The only thing that distinguishes them from bourgeois portraits is the family coat of arms in the upper right corner of the painting.
The portrait of his daughter, painter Marijana Jakabffy (1845-1919) is from Mὔcke’s Zagreb period, and is one of his most successful works wherein the description of details is reduced to a minimum, and he uses a realistic approach that does not idealise the figure of his own daughter, but penetrates into the psychological state of the young woman.
Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, museum advisor of the National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022