An Orphan (A Portrait of a Girl), 1929
oil on canvas
Jerolim Miše’s portrait of An Orphan from 1929 features all the fundamental formal, style- and theme-related strivings of his. He expressed the sadness of the portrayed child with the help of a realistically modelled volume, and the scene is lent a certain dramatic quality with the help of his choice of colour and contrast lighting of supernatural intensity. Without having made avant-garde breakthroughs, Miše strove after forming a ‘direct relationship with the object’ and created a notable portrait oeuvre featuring realistic settings, Cézannesque construction and Renoiresque colours. In the later 1930s, Miše replaced his tonal three-dimensional shaping with obvious colour flatness, akin to the then contemporary expression of painter Petar Dobrović.
In 1911 Jerolim Miše published such a severe piece of criticism of the work of his Professor Menci Clement Crnčić that he got expelled from the College of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb. He then studied painting in Rome and Florence, and later taught at the academies of fine art in Belgrade and Zagreb. Having been an active participant in all significant arts events in Croatia in the first half of the 20th century, he wrote art criticism and theoretical discussions, poems and short stories, and also did graphic design. Thanks to sculptor Ivan Meštrović, Miše’s early painting was influenced by the linear Art Nouveau style. Under the influence of French painting and contemporary German Expressionism, in the late 1920s Miše geometrised forms pronouncedly in the spirit of New Modernism and Magical Expressionism. Having been a member of The Group of Three, he participated in the formulation of “our expression”. After having used intense colours and after having liberated his gesture in the 1930s, he painted mostly intimist still lifes and landscapes in deep colours. He did not find his way round the artistic currents of Socialist Realism, and in the last decades of his life he painted realistically.
Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator 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