Josip Račić
A Lady in Black, 1907
oil on canvas
96.3 x 78.7 cm

After having studied in Zagreb Josip Račić (1885–1908) moved to Vienna in 1904, and then to Munich where he attended Anton Ažbe’s school of painting. He also spent time in Berlin in 1905. In the fall that same year, he enrolled in the drawing school at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich where he studied with Johann and Ludwig Herterich and Hugo von Habermann. In Munich, he socialized with Vladimir Becić, Miroslav Kraljević and Oskar Herman, and they became known as Die Kroatische Schule within the Academy. He spent the last year of his life, 1908, in Paris, where he created a series of successful works in the oil and watercolour techniques with depictions of Parisian vedutas and scenes from urban life with subtle hints of modernism.
The seated figure of a woman dressed in black, with a black scarf and a white collar, is depicted in three-quarter profile in a vertical format, using a dark colour range. Her head is slightly tilted back towards the left half of the picture, her right arm is bent at the elbow and rests on her side, while the left is laid casually on her lap, holding a rolled up grey napkin. This is a skilful and convincing case of tonal painting, as taught at the Academy in Munich, with pronounced soft modulations, typical of Račić. Although traditional in execution and conception, with its superior quality and uncanny psychological characterisation, it occupies a prominent place in Račić’s oeuvre and Croatian painting in general.

Text: Ivana Rončević Elezović, museum counselor at the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern art, Zagreb, 2023
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern art, Zagreb, 2023

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