An Old Woman’s Head, 1874-1875
oil on canvas
To highlight the contrast between the painting’s dark background and the light, almost glittering silver surface of an old woman’s hair, Ferdo Quiquerez has the bowed head of an old woman with silvery hair lit from above emerge from the warm, dark gallery-brown background. The pronounced wrinkles around the old woman’s mouth and the eyes which sank into what are almost entirely black eye sockets indicate that Quiquerez had a tendency towards taking a realist’s approach to portraiture.
Thanks to his small-format landscapes and a few portraits, Ferdo Quiquerez (1845-1893) is considered to be one of the founders of Realism in Croatia along with the first generation of Croatian painters who attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, namely Isidor Kršnjavi and Nikola Mašić. He studied painting under painter Mücke by making sketches for History Painting compositions. After having received a scholarship from Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer in 1870, he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he was mentored by Prof. Karl von Piloty, a painter of History Painting compositions, and printmaker and painter Johann Leonhard Raab. He dropped out of the academy in Munich in 1872 and travelled to Italy, where he stayed until 1875. He first resided in Venice (where he became acquainted with painter Ippolito Caffi’s architectural vedutas), and then in Rome and its surroundings, where he copied works of art in churches and public collections. In Sorrento and on the Island of Capri, he painted – together with painters Henryk Siemiradzki and Isidor Kršnjavi – bright landscapes in plein-air and by applying paint freely and in smears. Thanks to the Zadar-born painter Franjo Salghetti-Drioli, in 1875 Quiquerez went to Montenegro via Zadar and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he became the court painter to Prince Nicholas I of Montenegro. His studies are a faithful record of the people and landscapes that he passed through. In 1876 he returned to Zagreb, and in 1878 he started teaching drawing at a grammar school. Although he worked constantly, Quiquerez lived poorly because of his failing health and the modest income he earned as a teacher.
Text Tatijana Gareljić,museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb