Before the Storm, 1913
oil on canvas 80.6 x 114.6 cm
After having graduated from the School of Crafts in Zagreb, Ferdo Kovačević (1870 –1927) moved to Vienna where he studied painting at the Karl Karger School of Arts and Crafts. He was one of the founders of the Society of Croatian Artists in 1897 and he exhibited at the Croatian Salon in 1898. He participated in Izidor Kršnjavi’s program of decorating the Department of Religious Affairs and Education and the then building of National and University Library (today the Croatian State Archives) with vedute of Croatian cities on the supraporte (overdoors). He has worked as a professor at the School of Crafts in Zagreb since 1905, and then at the Academy since 1917. He was a corresponding member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts (JAZU). Since 1894, he has exhibited with the circle around Bukovac, and he has also participated in exhibitions of the Lada Association of South Slav Artists and the Croatian Art Society.
In his early works, Kovačević adheres to the symbolist expression, however after a crucial meeting with Vlaho Bukovac he changed direction towards pleinairisme and realism. His specificity as a painter in Croatian art is his selection of the continental Sava landscape as a theme, which he paints in countless variations. In the painting Before the Storm from 1913, he uses an expressive deep tonal colourway and the compositional means of diagonal white posts on the surface of the water from the lower left corner towards the centre of the painting, occupied by a bush on the edge of the river bank, thus inviting the observer into the drama of the sky before the storm.
Text: Ivana Rončević Elezović, Museum advisor of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb