Vojtěch (Adalbert) Hynais, Portrait of Herman Bollé, 1877

Vojtěch (Adalbert) Hynais (1854 – 1925)
Portrait of Herman Bollé, 1877
oil on canvas, 110.7x80.5 cm

Vojtěch Hynais is one of the most prominent Czech painters, graphic artists and designers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was born in Vienna, where he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts. He later attended the school of Anselm Feurbach (1829 -1880), one of the leading German classicist painters. As was customary in art education at that time, he went to Rome, first in 1874 where, together with the Slovenian painter Janez Šubic, he created frescoes for a hospice, and then again in 1877 with Feurbach. After having returned to Vienna, he quickly completed the commission he received from Bishop Strossmayer and he then won a scholarship to study in Paris where he lived from 1878 to 1893. He met Vlaho Bukovac in Paris, which is later going to be of great help to the Croatian painter after he moves to Prague. Both will become professors at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts and good friends. Hynais also spent some time in New York, together with this Parisian professor Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry (1826 – 1886) where he worked on the ceiling decorations of a villa.
Stylistically, his oeuvre is heterogeneous, ranging from the religious and mythological scenes painted in the academic style, through realistic portraits and proto-impressionist landscapes and symbolic compositions. Hynais was also one of the founders of the Vienna Secession.
The realistic bourgeois portrait of the confident Bollé is painted in brown – reddish tones. The hair, flesh tones of the face and hands and the coat’s fur are rendered in warm brown reddish tones, which in combination with the dark brown background and the colour of the coat enhances the elegance, even nobility of the Austrian architect who will soon move to Zagreb permanently. Hynais’ painting skill is especially visible in the way he painted the hands with pronounced bluish veins, while his realism is reduced to the painterly essence, without superfluous description. Brushstrokes are occasionally hatched (fur), which indicates the painter’s knowledge of contemporary painting phenomena.

Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, Museum advisor of the National Museum of Modern Art© National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022


Henryk Siemiradzki, Landscape with Figures from Antiquity, 1877

Henryk Siemiradzki (1848 – 1902)
Landscape with Figures from Antiquity, 1877
oil on canvas, 49.5x64.5cm

Henryk Siemiradzki is a Polish painter best-known for his figural compositions with themes from ancient Roman history, and biblical and mythological motifs. He was born in a Polish family that moved to the Kharkov region, then part of Tsarist Russia. He went to school and university in Kharkov, which probably influenced his worldview during a time of the proliferation of great national messages and ideas, as reflected in the choice of themes in his paintings that are not particularly related to Polish history. Siemiradzki also painted motifs from Russian history, which rigid guardians of national values have not forgotten to this day.

Regrettably, the breadth he showed in choosing themes and motifs of his works was not accompanied with equal artistic breadth – he stubbornly persisted in the conservative academic way of painting even when artists with a more progressive realistic visual expression, gathered around the Peredvizhniki Movement, were working near him.

Henryk Siemiradzki obtained a degree in painting from the St. Petersburg Academy in 1871, having previously obtained a degree in natural sciences in 1864. He spent some time in Munich, and then in 1872 moved to Rome where he would have a studio in his villa, which became an important place of social gathering of nobility and persons from public and cultural life of the time, especially the Slavs. A certain duality of artistic conception marked his entire painting oeuvre. On the one hand, an affinity for the academic style of painting, and on the other, a suppressed intuitive interest in painting in plein air and an interest in the visual language, that is, the so-called “pure painting”. Taken by the atmosphere of the Italian landscape, he also painted a number of small landscapes in plain air that are characterised by the immediacy of experience and expression. He thus occasionally painted small landscapes of Italian provinces that were devoid of embellishment in the studio and affectation, such as, for example, the painting Landscape with Figures from Antiquity, 1877. The stone bridge, rocks and architecture are painted in different shades of grey as well as the trees on the hillside overlooking the bridge. A large dark green tree that casts an afternoon shadow closes the colouristically elegant composition. The scene is not burdened with decorative details or luminescent effect that abound in figurative compositions. He painted concrete archaeological, architectural and landscape motifs and, where appropriate, incorporated them in larger figurative compositions.

Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, Museum advisor of the National Museum of Modern Art©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Photo: Goran Vranić©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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