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5 July 1855|
Cavtat, Austria-Hungary (today's Croatia)
|Died||23 April 1922
Prague, Czechoslovakia (today's Czech Republic)
|Notable work(s)||Une fleur
Croatian National Revival
Vlaho Bukovac (French: Blaise Bukovac Italian: Biagio Faggioni; 5 July 1855, Cavtat-23 April 1922, Prague), a Croatian painter. His life and work were eclectic, for the artist pursued his career in a variety of locales and his style changed greatly over the course of that career. He is probably best known for his 1887 nude Une fleur (A Flower), which he created during his French period and which received attention in various reviews and publications during his lifetime.
Bukovac received his artistic education in Paris where he was sent by the patron (Knez) Medo Pucić. His small studies and sketches delighted his professor, the well-known Alexandre Cabanel, and Bukovac became a student at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts.
Bukovac died in Prague.
Bukovac began his career in France. Painted in a "sugary" realistic style, his fashionable paintings achieved great success at the Paris Salon. During his sojourn in France, he travelled to England and the coast of Dalmatia, where he was born. His wide travels throughout his life also included voyages to the Black Sea, South (Chile and Peru), and North America.
He learnt English when living in America as a teenager and, from the mid-1880s to the First World War, regularly visited England, where many of his most popular pictures were sold by the London art dealers, Vicars Bros. They included his large religious piece, Suffer the Little Children to Come to Me, and three nude subjects, The White Slave, Potiphar’s Wife and Adam and Eve. In Britain, Bukovac also painted portraits of Vicars’s clients, including his best patrons Samson Fox of Harrogate and Richard LeDoux of Liverpool. Samson Fox had bought Suffer the Little Children to Come to Me, exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1888, which was later presented to St Robert's church in Harrogate. 
Bukovac became a significant representative of fine arts in Zagreb, Croatia from 1893 to 1897, bringing with him the spirit of French art. These new directives are most evident in his landscapes. He then began using a palette of lively and lighter colors using liberated strokes, soft rendering and the introduction of light on the painting canvas. In his time in Zagreb, he became a leader at many important cultural and artistic events. He founded the Zagreb multicoloured school, helped initiate the construction of the Art Pavilion, and organized the first artistic exhibition in the Academy Palace in 1893. Due to conflict with Izidor Kršnjavi and his great sensitivity, he withdrew to his native Cavtat where he stayed from 1898 to 1902. Upon his return to Prague he was appointed associate professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in 1903.
His departure from Prague resulted in a complete change of personality for Bukovac. He felt satisfaction and enthusiasm in Zagreb that he had not felt in a while, and began to dedicate all of his energy to his new students, one of which was noted Croatian painter Mirko Rački. It was in this time he introduced pointillism to the Prague Academy, and earned his historical reputation as an excellent pedagogue. In Zagreb, he is probably best known as the painter of the theatre curtain in the Croatian National Theatre, "Croatian National Revival".
Style and influences
Besides being an artist who followed the established canons dictated by the Salon and the general public, he followed his own inner impulses of artistic creation. Liberated artistic expression, which was called Impressionism, developed in the spirit of the artists who kept gathering in modernism-oriented marginal galleries in Paris in the 1870s. He knew the spirit of academism and, on the other hand, he felt the spirit of Impressionistic freedom. Having accepted modern principles, Bukovac painted casual pictures, using liberated strokes of the brush, in the pointillist technique.
- Bukovac, Vlaho. Moj Život. Zagreb: Književni Jug, 1918.
- Kružić-Uchytil, Vera. Vlaho Bukovac: Život i Djelo. Zagreb: Matica Hrvatska, 1968. Expanded second edition: Zagreb : Nakladni Zavod Globus, 2005.
- Kružić-Uchytil, Vera. "Prvi nastupi hrvatskih umjetnika na međunarodnoj umjetničkoj sceni od 1896 do 1903 godine." Peristil 31 (1998): 193-198.
- Zidić, Igor. Vlaho Bukovac. Zagreb: Moderna Galerija, 2000.
- Kapičić, Anđe. Bukovac i Crna Gora. Cetinje: Matica Crnogorska, 2002.
- Rossner, Rachel. ‘"The secessionists are the Croats. They’ve been given their own pavilion…" Vlaho Bukovac’s Battle for Croatian Autonomy at the 1896 Millennial Exhibition in Budapest,' Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide vol. 6, no.1 (2007)
Notes and references
- Igor Zidic, Vlaho Bukovac (Vecernji List)
- "Vlaho Bukovac". National Museums Liverpool. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
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