A Portrait of a Woman, 1909
oil on canvas
Robert Auer (1873-1952) studied painting at the School of Crafts in Zagreb, at the School of Arts and Crafts in Vienna and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he moved to in 1895 and exhibited at the Munich Art Nouveau exhibition in 1896. Together with his wife, painter Leopoldina Auer Schmidt, in 1987 he opened a private art school in Zagreb, which was attended by painters Tomislav Krizman and Joso Bužan. He participated in the founding of the Lada Croatian Artists’ Association and the Society of Croatian Artists. He taught at the School of Crafts in Zagreb from 1905 and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb from 1918. In terms of style, Auer painted in the vein of Munich-based Academicism and Jugendstil, and portraits and nudes in the spirit of idealised Realism, which were particularly popular amongst the bourgeois of his time.
Robert Auer’s A Portrait of a Woman from 1909 intrigues with its unusual choice of view of the bust of a young girl dressed in contemporary bourgeois clothes – she has her back turned to viewers. It’s a three-quarter view portrait with the girl gently bowing her head and lowering her gaze. The composition is impressive thanks to its condensed quality and deliberate simplicity. The colour accents of the large warm ochre field of the upper half of the painting, and the darker and lighter pink shades of the dress in the lower half frame the gentle skin tones of the girl’s face and the brown tones of her hair, which in terms of Auer’s exploration of colour composition, nearly reaches value in itself.
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