Water Lilies I, 1899
watercolour on paper
Croatian art history remembers Slava Raškaj (1877-1906) as a superb watercolour painter. She was born both deaf and mute in the town of Ozalj, which continued to be a constant motif for her. She left Ozalj in 1885 to be schooled at the Royal Institute for the Deaf and Mute in Vienna (1885-1893). After she returned to Zagreb in 1895, she studied painting under painter Bela Čikoš Sesija (1864-1931), who introduced her to the Society of Croatian Artists. In consequence, Slava Raškaj exhibited at the 1898-99 Croatian Salon, at the Austro-Hungarian exhibition in St. Petersburg in 1899, and at the 1900 Paris Exposition, where she exhibited two vedutas of Zagreb and her Water Lilies from Zagreb’s Botanical Garden.
Slava Raškaj painted her Water Lilies I watercolour from 1899 at Zagreb’s Botanical Garden, where painter Vlaho Bukovac held painting classes in plein-air. It is interesting to note that there exists a very similar composition of Water Lilies from Zagreb’s Botanical Garden by Bukovac himself, which he painted in 1898 in the oil on canvas medium. Both paintings are plein-air paintings, and are direct and spontaneous studies of motifs in the open air in direct sunlight. Their choice of the motif of water lily is, of course, a direct reference to Claude Monet and his water lilies.
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