Slava Raškaj
Fruit Basket, 1898
watercolour on paper, 29 x 37.9 cm

Croatian art history remembers Slava Raškaj (1877–1906) as a superb watercolour painter. She was born deaf and mute in the town of Ozalj, which continued to be a constant motif for her. She left Ozalj in 1885 and studied at the Royal Institute for the Deaf and Mute in Vienna until 1893. Upon her return to Zagreb in 1895, she studied under painter Bela Čikoš Sesija (1864–1931), who introduced her to the Society of Croatian Artists. As a consequence, Slava Raškaj exhibited at the Croatian Salon in 1898/99, at the Austro-Hungarian exhibition in St. Petersburg in 1899 and the 1900 Paris Exposition.

Slava Raškaj’s Fruit Basket from 1898 is a masterfully painted watercolour in which the translucent layers of subtle colour gradations and tones build a successful illusion of the third dimension. Central position in the image belongs to a close-up of three pears in front of an open wicker basket of fruit laid on a table. The almost symmetrical composition is subtly dynamized by details such as a different incline of the fruit or the discreet differences in the display of, for example, a tablecloth or a basket.

Text: Ivana Rončević Elezović, senior curator at the National Museum of Modern Art© National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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