Ivan Zasche, A Forest, s. a.

Ivan Zasche
A Forest, s. a.
oil on cardboard
48×38 cm

Ivan Zasche was one of the first and most important painters with a formal education in painting who arrived and stayed in Zagreb at the invitation of Archbishop Juraj Haulik (1788-1869), for whom he produced drawings and a lithographic map called Park Jurjaves. Park vedutas featuring picturesque depictions of specific individuals were a peculiarity of landscape painting characteristic of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. In his A Forest painting, Zasche used the same method of first drawing plein-air studies of nature, a segment of which he then painted in his studio, to which he added a small human figure. The landscape depicts a withered oak tree surrounded by young trees and a figure of a woman bent while carrying a load, the latter of which reinforces the metaphor of the transience of life and conveys a sense of proportion.

Zasche’s appearance in Zagreb in the mid-1850s and 1860s brought a touch of metropolitan class and introduced Zagreb to the artistic quality of Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts. Thanks to his exceptional talent, Zasche turned the non-existence of an arts scene in Zagreb to his advantage by having gradually freed himself from the strict rules, methods and approach of Academicism, and by having started to paint portraits, landscapes, scenes from everyday life and sacral compositions. Zasche was an exceptional painter of his time in Croatia’s social and cultural milieu – he was the first to have painted landscapes and scenes from everyday life besides portraits and sacral scenes, which were usual motifs at the time. It is very likely that he had been given impetus for this early on by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (1793-1865), a free-spirited Biedermeier painter and Professor at Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts, who encouraged his students to draw plein-air studies of nature, which facilitated their exploration of a more personal visual expression.

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

Oton Iveković, A Forest, 1900

Oton Iveković
A Forest, 1900
oil on canvas
80.7×66 cm

Oton Iveković (1869-1939) studied painting in Zagreb under painter Ferdo Quiquerez, then from 1886 in Vienna under painters Christian Griepenkerl and August Eisenmenger, and finally in Munich under Wilhelm von Lindenschmit the Younger and in Karlsruhe under painter Ferdinand von Keller. He worked as a drawing teacher at a grammar school in Zagreb, from 1895 at the School of Crafts and from 1908 at the College of Arts (today’s Academy of Fine Arts). In 1908, Iveković was elected as president of the Lada Croatian Artists’ Association. He travelled across Croatia, Italy, Germany and the USA, and during World War I he worked as a war artist. Besides Menci Clement Crnčić, Iveković is considered to be one of the most prominent representatives of Historicism in Croatia, particularly of patriotically inspired and inspirited History Painting. Towards the end of his life, he retreated to the fortress of Veliki Tabor in Croatia’s north-western region of Zagorje.

The popularity of Oton Iveković as a history painter has often pushed into the background his exceptional talent for and achievements in depicting realistically the atmosphere of one of the seasons in his landscapes. One of the most beautiful examples of this is his A Forest from 1900, which is a simple vertical composition divided into three parts: the upper third of the painting is a depiction of a grey and foggy autumn sky, the central third is occupied by the red hues of forest leaves in autumn, and the lower third depicts a grass-covered clearing in front of the forest in dark greens and light ochres.

Text: Ivana Rončević Elezović, senior curator 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

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