Worker (Self-Portrait?), 1913
oil on canvas
99.8 x 79.7 cm
Petar Dobrović (1890–1942) studied painting in Budapest from 1909 to 1911, where he has shown his works for the first time at the Museum of Fine Arts in 1911. In his native Pécs, he socialised with writer Miroslav Krleža. He spent the period from 1912 to 1914 in Paris, when he created a series of drawings influenced by Cézanne and Cubism. In 1926 in Belgrade, he was one of the founding members of the Form (Oblik in Croatian) Art Group, and he also participated in the founding of the Belgrade Academy of Fine Arts, where he worked as a professor since 1937. His summers spent on the island of Hvar and in Dubrovnik, where he created a series of landscapes and portraits in oil and watercolour techniques are significant. Dobrović’s painting was particularly marked by the colouristic realism of the 1930s.
Dobrović painted the half-length portrait of a young man in a rather theatrical, almost expressionist manner. The pose and energetic gesture of the character’s raised, outstretched arms, bent at the elbows, contribute to the expressive tension of the picture. The portrait of the Worker (Self-Portrait?) is rendered in a dark register of brown and grey hues, with cubic, broken forms as an echo of the historical avant-gardes, still topical in 1913 when the painting was created. In addition to the penetrating gaze, aimed directly at the observer, the pronounced drama of the composition is achieved by lighting, with a strong contrast between light and dark and diagonal penetrations in the scheme of the composition. The silhouette of the person portrayed is additionally highlighted with a sort of ‘illuminated’ outline that encircles it and emerges from the surrounding darkness of the background.
Text: Ivana Rončević Elezović, Museum Counselor at the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023
Foto: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023