Menci Clement Crnčić
A Young Girl, 1890
oil on canvas, 66 x 53cm
Menci Clement Crnčić (1865-1930) was the first Croatian graphic artist and painter of seascapes. He studied painting in Vienna (1882-1884) and in Munich (1889-1891) under Nicolaus Gysis. Thanks to the scholarship awarded to him on Kršnjavi’s recommendation, he attended a special course in graphic arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and then in Lovran (1894-1897) under the renowned engraver Wilhelm Unger. In 1896, he was awarded the Füger Gold Medal and in 1897 he received the Vienna Academy Award and nine of his prints became part of the holdings of the Albertina Museum. He was the first Croatian artist to use printmaking as a means of independent artistic expression, equating it with painting and sculpture.
From 1897 he lived in Lovran until he moved to Zagreb in 1900. In 1903, together with Csikos, he opened a private painting school, which grew into the Advanced School of Arts and Crafts – today’s Academy of Fine Arts. Over the course of his many years of pedagogical work, he educated numerous painters and graphic artists (Tomislav Krizman, Ivan Benković, Ljubo Babić). In 1919, he became a member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts, and from 1920 to 1928 he was the director of the Strossmayer Gallery. In 1905, he travelled around Europe with writer Milan Šenoa, in 1907 he visited Italy with painter Oton Iveković, and then in 1908 he travelled throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. His painting oeuvre includes many seascapes, landscapes from Istria, the Croatian Littoral and the vedute of Zagreb painted with a vivid bright colourway under the influence of Bukovac’s Colourful School of Zagreb.
The painting A Young Girl is Crnčić’s early work, created during his studies at the Munich Academy, which has all the characteristics of Leibl’s Munich Realism, based on the systematic observation of the human body and face, that is manifested in the tonal modelling of the image reduced to hues of a few colours. A Young Girl is painted in hues of ochre and white. The only colouristic exception is a discreet blue ribbon in the young girl’s hair.
Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, museum consultant © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb