Vladimir Becić, Little Girl with a Doll, 1947

Vladimir Becić
Little Girl with a Doll, 1947
oil on plywood
47.7 x 39.4 cm

Vladimir Becić (1886 – 1954) was one of the most significant and serious painters of the Munich Circle and one of the leading representatives of Croatian modern painting. The most important of his several stylistic transformations are the periods of the Munich Circle and the time of new Realisms of the 1920s. During the first phase at the Academy (1906 – 1909), and later, Becić conveys the features of tradition and the new, contemporary Academicism (H. von Habermann), the peculiar realism of W. Leibl, as well as E. Manet’s recapitulation of the painting of Goya and Velasquez. This is reflected in the constructive and plastic attitude towards the image (Oak Tree, 1907, Self-Portrait with a Bowler, 1909, Still Life, 1909). At that time, Becić used minimal painting tools in the manner of pure painting, and a reduced, almost achromatic range. He is the first Croatian painter to have adopted, in step with modernity, P. Cézanne’s structure of the stroke – facets, trying out his techniques in a series of landscapes (Poplars, 1911). He thus adopts the modern expression. During the Great War of 1916 – 1918, he was a war photographer, reporter and illustrator, and in the Blažuj Phase, from 1919, he adopted monumental neoclassicism of the new Realisms (Mountain Landscape with a Stream, 1923). From 1924 to 1947, he worked as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, and in 1929 he became part of the Group of Three and was preoccupied with the colourful Bosnian and Dalmatian landscapes and genre-scenes (Boy with a Corn on the Cob, 1937). His work Little Girl with a Doll (1947) is one of the typical examples in which Becić, preoccupied with the motif of a genre-scene, depicts a girl sitting with a doll in her lap in a muted palette. The intimate atmosphere of child’s play in her own home is completed by the relaxed position of the girl’s body. The pronounced shy look, takes the observer on a sentimental journey back to the childhood. Becić participated in numerous exhibitions, while his retrospective exhibitions were staged in 1984 (Art Pavilion) and 2018 (Klovićevi Dvori Gallery). In 1934, he became a full member of the then Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Text: Lorena Šimić, curator trainee at the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023.
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023.

Vjekoslav Karas, Little Girl with a Doll, 1857

Vjekoslav Karas
(1821 – 1858)
Little Girl with a Doll, 1857
oil on canvas
118.5x92.5 cm

Painter and composer Vjekoslav Karas (1821 - 1858) was one of the storied Croatian artists who, along with Josip Račić, whose life ended tragically by suicide because he felt that the world failed to understand him. Karas’s unsystematic education and training in painting began with him taking lessons from amateur Karlovac-based painters. Thanks to his patrons, in 1838 he travelled to Italy to be schooled. He first stayed in Florence, where the Zadar-born painter Franjo Salghetti-Drioli (1811-1877) set him up in a studio. Karas frequented Florence’s churches and public collections to make copies and studies, and attended anatomy classes at the Academy of Fine Arts. Between 1841 and 1847 he resided in Rome, where he became acquainted with the Romantic religious painting of the Nazarene Movement. Whilst in Rome, he also met the Rijeka-born painter Ivan Simonetti (1817-1880). During his occasional stays in Zagreb, he adopted Ljudevit Gaj’s Illyrian ideas. Owing to a lack of financial means, in 1848 he finally returned to Croatia. Abject poverty forced him to travel across Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and produce commissioned works. From 1852 to 1858 when he died, he lived and worked commuting between Karlovac and Zagreb.
In terms of style, Karas’s oeuvre features Classicism, Nazarene Romanticism and Biedermeier Realism, and it is so heterogeneous that each painting would require its own study because of inconsistency of style and composition (Nikola Albaneže). The painting Little Girl with a Doll from 1857 can be read through the painter’s focus on the gracefulness of the model, the naivety of the compositional scheme, but above all it shows the layered poetic and metaphorical coding of both the portrait and the mise-en-scène (Margarita Sveštarov Šimat). Karas did not sign the portraits because, as with most of his paintings, he was dissatisfied with their quality and “always strived to be better”, as he himself stated.
Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, museum advisor of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022

Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022

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