A Self-Portrait with a Flat Cap, 1914
oil on cardboard
Vlaho Bukovac (1855-1922) was one of the key figures of Modernism in art and culture in Croatia. He was educated in Paris and is known for his international career (France, England, the USA, Vienna, the Czech Republic). In terms of style, Bukovac’s painting ranges from Academicist Realism of the period of the so-called Colourful School of Zagreb to a peculiar Symbolism in the portraits and nudes he created during the last twenty years of his life when he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague.
Bukovac’s A Self-Portrait with a Flat Cap painting from 1914 is from the latter period and was painted in a darker palette of colours most of which are browns and yellows. He painted his self-portrait by using a distinctive version of Divisionism that featured in European Symbolism at the turn of the century, beginning with the Lombard School of Painting and painters such as Giovanni Segantini, Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, Angelo Morbelli and others in the late 19th century, from where its many distinctive variants spread throughout Europe in general and in Central Europe in particular. In such painting, the brushstrokes are short lines, which lends the canvas surface a specific vibrancy which creates a symbolist atmosphere. Bukovac was considered to be a key figure in spreading this technique of painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. Bukovac’s gaze from the shadow of his cap is confidently directed towards the observer, while his posture, flat cap and the lit cigarette in his mouth serve to accentuate the figure’s fashionably casual stance.
Text: Ivana Rončević Elezović, 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