A Slavonian Forest, s. a.
watercolour, 12×22 cm
Adolf Waldinger (1843-1904) was given his first lessons in painting in his native Osijek by Hugo Conrad von Hötzendorf, after which in 1861 he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, which he attended for only two semesters. In the following years, he acquired his knowledge of and skill in art in Vienna’s painting studios and during his travels to Bavaria, Austria and northern Italy. In 1869 he returned to Osijek where he worked as a drawing teacher at a grammar school for some time. His absolute romantic commitment to nature and art was the reason why he was misunderstood by society at large, and why he lived in social isolation and in poverty.
Waldinger’s works feature both romantic qualities – an atmosphere of solitude and a longing for the unattainable – and realistic analyticity in the sense of Gustave Courbet’s idea of painting representing ‘physical characteristics’, according to which paintings are to “be made up of the representation of the things the artist can touch and see”.
Adolf Waldinger drew and painted forests and forest plants almost obsessively during his long retreats to nature. Painted in calm bluish-green hues, Waldinger’s Slavonian watercolour landscapes are airy and light, which is the result of his classic, closed lines of a calm flow. Painted with the tip of his brush, the plants in the foreground expand in the background into a landscape of plains and hills with the help of aerial perspective. Thanks to him having studied real motifs in nature in much detail, Waldinger did not burden his drawings with unnecessary descriptiveness. This makes him close to Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller’s Realism, which – owing to him having painted from direct observation – features credible depictions of landscape fore- and backgrounds, psychological characterisations of figures and refined representations of textures.
Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, museum advisor 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