A Portrait of Senator Kavić, 1839
oil on canvas
Slovenian painter Mihael Stroy was one of those foreign painters whose stay in Croatia had a significant impact on Croatia’s cultural and creative milieu. He ended up in Croatia together with a generation of young enthusiasts at a time when feelings of patriotism and national pride were booming. He enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 1822, at a time of Vienna’s decline in artistic creativity and of the emergence of Biedermeier, an original art movement and style of the bourgeoisie closely linked to the Austrians’ mentality and milieu. Biedermeier was a heterogeneous style that made use of elements of Classicism, Romanticism and Realism. Stroy moved from Vienna to Zagreb as early as 1830 and stayed in Zagreb until 1842. He painted portraits across Croatia, at the castles and manors of Croatia’s northern region of Zagorje, and the towns of Varaždin and Samobor. Whilst in Croatia, he produced some eighty paintings of unequal quality, portraits, allegories of four continents for Trakošćan Castle and several sacral compositions.
From amongst his often typified portraits featuring fashionable details and elegant figure placements, Mihael Stroy’s A Portrait of Senator Kavić from 1839 kept at the National Museum of Modern Art is to be singled out as one of the pinnacles of Stroy’s achievements in portraiture during his stay in Zagreb. The way light radiates from the incarnadine skin tones and from the dark brown hair of the senator lends a certain liveliness to the official portrait. The richness of his blacks which are shaded to depict different materials and which contrast with the whiteness of the senator’s shirt indicates that Stroy possessed perfect mastery of painterly techniques. What is more, the red velvet armchair is complementary to the green background. Stroy brought to life the portrait of this classically placed senator with the help of his colour-specific virtuosity and creativity.
Tekst: Dajana Vlaisavljević, muzejska savjetnica Nacionalnog muzeja moderne umjetnosti © Nacionalni muzej moderne umjetnosti, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Foto: Goran Vranić © Nacionalni muzej moderne umjetnosti, Zagreb