A Landscape/A Tree, 1874-1875
oil on canvas
Thanks to his small-format landscapes, Ferdo Quiquerez (1845-1893) is considered to be one of the founders of Realism in Croatia along with the first generation of Croatian painters who attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, namely Isidor Kršnjavi and Nikola Mašić. He studied painting with Mücke by making sketches for historical compositions. After having received a scholarship from Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer in 1870, he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he was mentored by Professor Karl von Piloty, a painter of historical compositions, and printmaker and painter Johann Leonhard Raab. Because he was in poor health, he dropped out of the academy in Munich in 1872 and travelled to Italy, where he stayed until 1875. He first resided in Venice, and then in Rome and its surroundings, where he copied works of art in churches and public collections. In Sorrento and on the Island of Capri, he painted – together with Henryk Siemiradzki and Isidor Kršnjavi – bright landscapes in plein-air and by applying paint freely and in smears. Thanks to the Zadar-born painter Franjo Salghetti-Drioli, in 1875 Quiquerez went to Montenegro via Zadar and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he became the court painter to Prince Nicholas I of Montenegro. His studies are a faithful record of the people and landscapes that he passed through. In 1876 he returned to Zagreb, and in 1878 started teaching drawing at a grammar school.
With the canopy of the tree extending beyond the painting, Quiquerez’s A Landscape/A Tree dates from his Italian period of free compositions. Having been painted in plein-air, and the paint having been applied freely and in smears, it represents a break away from the restraints of Academicism and the imposed narrative approach. In other words, it represents a return to pure painting, that is, his commitment to the basic elements of form. Using the same approach, Quiquerez painted several of his Montenegrin landscapes and portraits, with which he directly – although without any conceptual forethought – paved the way for Modernism.
Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, 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