Vlaho Bukovac

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Vlaho Bukovac
Biagio Faggioni.jpg
Biagio Faggioni

(1855-07-04)4 July 1855
Died23 April 1922(1922-04-23) (aged 66)
Known forPainting
Notable workUne fleur
Natalie of Serbia
Curtain for Croatian National Theatre of Zagreb

Vlaho Bukovac (French: Blaise Bukovac; Italian: Biagio Faggioni; 4 July 1855 – 23 April 1922) was a Croatian painter and academic.[1][2][3][4] 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 was the court painter for Obrenović dynasty, Karađorđević dynasty and Petrović-Njegoš dynasty. In Zagreb, he is probably best known as the painter of the 1895 theatre curtain in the Croatian National Theatre.


The young Biagio Faggioni
Bukovac's childhood home in Cavtat

Bukovac was born Biagio Faggioni in the town of Cavtat south of Dubrovnik in Dalmatia. While his mother was of Croatian descent, his paternal grandfather was an Italian sailor from the Genoa area who experienced a shipwreck near Cavtat. Like that he met a local girl Ana Kličan, Bukovac's grandmother, with whom he married and settled in Cavtat.[5] When he was eleven, he left with his uncle Frano for New York, where he stayed for four years before returning to his parents.[6] Soon after, he found employment as a sailor, traveling on the Istanbul-Liverpool-Odessa route, however, his nautical career was soon cut short due to injuries sustained during a fall on the ship.[6] While recovering at home, he began to paint. In 1873 he and his brother Jozo left for Peru, where he lived for a year selling his paintings before moving to California in 1874.

In San Francisco, he began an amateur career in painting, and received his first lessons in art from Domenico Tojetti.[7] He painted many portraits, including multiple for the family of wealthy businessman William Dunphy,[8] owner of the Rancho Posa de los Ositos.

In 1877, Faggioni returned to Europe to study painting, and in this time began using the surname Bukovac, a translation of the Italian word faggio meaning beech.[6] He received his artistic education in Paris where he was financially supported by patrons Josip Juraj Strossmayer and Medo Pucić.[9][10] He became a student at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris studying under the famed French artist Alexandre Cabanel.[11] Dubrovnik-based Serb trader Petar Marić also assisted him financially, and Bukovac later painted a portrait of him and his family.[12]

In 1892 he married Jelica Pitarević from Dubrovnik. They had one son and three daughters.[6] He would become a correspondent member of the Czech Academy of Sciences, an honorary member of Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts (JAZU)[13] and also a member of Serbian Royal Academy.[10][14] He died in Prague where he studied and taught art.

Early career[edit]

Portrait of Natalie of Serbia, 1882, part of the National Museum of Serbia collection

Bukovac began his career in France. He painted in a "sugary" realistic style, his fashionable paintings achieved great success at the Paris Salon. During his time in France, he often traveled to England and the Dalmatian coast, where he was born. From the mid-1880s to World War I, regularly visited England, where many of his pictures were sold by the London art dealers Vicars Brothers, including The White Slave in 1884.[15] During his time in England, Bukovac gained the patronage of Samson Fox of Harrogate and Richard LeDoux of Liverpool, whose support would elevate him in British society and in the art scene.[16] 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.[16]

Courts of Serbia, Montenegro[edit]

Bukovac was the court painter for Obrenović dynasty and Karađorđević dynasty.[17][18] For his portrait of Natalie of Serbia he was awarded Order of the Cross of Takovo.[19][20] He was also awarded Order of St. Sava.[21]

Bukovac visited Kingdom of Montenegro several times and painted member of the Petrović-Njegoš dynasty and other members of the elite.[22][23] He was awarded Order of Prince Danilo I for his work.[20]

Some of his painting are a part of the collection of Museum of Fine Arts of Montenegro.[24]

Croatia and Prague[edit]

Hrvatski narodni preporod, Curtain at HNK in Zagreb
Bukovac's Development of Croatian Culture painted above main arch of the Croatian State Archives

Bukovac became a significant representative of fine arts in Zagreb, Croatia from 1893–97, 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. Several examples of his work are in the Golden Hall of the Hermann Bollé-built palace on Opatička Street (today the Croatian Institute of History), where Izidor Kršnjavi commissioned Croatian artists to paint historical scenes and allegorical compositions in high relief.[25]

In 1895, Bukovac completed one of his best known works, the theatre curtain in the Croatian National Theatre, The Reformation of Croatian Literature and Art.[26] In his time in Zagreb, he became a leader at many important cultural and artistic events. In December 1893, Bukovac and Izidor Kršnjavi opened an exhibition titled "Croatian Salon" (Hrvatski salon), displaying the works of many of the top Croatian artists of the time.[27] A few years later, Bukovac had his residence and atelier built on King Tomislav Square, and in 1895 he founded and became the first president of the "Croatian Society of Artists" (Croatian: Društvo hrvatskih umjetnika).[13] The organization's statute only allowed Croats who had successfully presented their collections at three different art exhibitions.[28] Therefore the original members were well known artists: Oskar Alexander, Robert Auer, Ivo Bauer, Menci Clement Crnčić, Bela Čikoš, Robert Frangeš, Ferdo Kovačević, Viktor Kovačić, and Rudolf Valdec.[28]

As president of the Croatian Society of Artists, he was among those who formerly opened the beautiful new Art Pavilion in Zagreb in December 1898.[29] He gave a speech thanking the city council for building the pavilion on behalf of Croatian artists.[30] During this time, he felt satisfaction and enthusiasm in Zagreb that he had not felt in a while. He dedicated much time and energy to his new students, one of which was noted Croatian painter Mirko Rački. However, due to controversy over the opening of the Croatian Salon, he withdrew to his native Cavtat where he stayed from 1898 to 1902.[13]

In 1903 he moved to Prague, where he was appointed associate professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague.[31] He introduced pointillism to the Prague Academy, and earned his historical reputation as an excellent pedagogue.

In 1908 he was elected president of the Association of Croatian Artists "Medulić" in Split.[32] From 1912-13, Bukovac painted "Development of Croatian Culture" (Razvitak Hrvatske Kulture) for the main reading room in the Croatian State Archives.[33] In 1918, he published his autobiography "My Life" (Moj život) in Zagreb.[34]


Une fleur or Reclining Nude

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 academia 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.[35]

His childhood home in Cavtat was made a museum called the Bukovac House, and is part of the Museums and Galleries of Konavle.[36] The museum holds a wide collection of Bukovac’s works, from portraits and paintings during his days in Paris, Zagreb, Cavtat, and Prague.

In addition to artwork, the museum contains many of Bukovac's personal objects, sketches, private letters, photographs, and a manuscript of his autobiography "My life" published in 1918. Also, Bukovac's work can be found in the collection of Milan Jovanović Stojimirović who bequeathed a large number of paintings, sketches and artifacts to the Art Department of the Museum in Smederevo.[37]

In 2006, Bukovac's painting Une fleur (identified as Reclining Nude by the auction house) sold at Bonhams in London for £100,800.[15]



  1. ^ Searching for Blaise: Vlaho Bukovac (1855 - 1922) and his Northern Patrons, Walker Art Gallery, "He is now regarded as Croatia’s leading artist of the late 19th century. ... The Croatian artist Vlaho Bukovac (1855-1922) is well-known in Central Europe and the Balkans."
  2. ^ The Southern Slav Question and the Habsburg Monarchy, Robert William Seton-Watson, 1911, pp. 140, "The first names on the roll of modern Croat artists are two Dalmatians - Vlaho Bukovac (b. 1855) and Celestine Medović (b. 1851), both of whom have won recognition in Paris and elsewhere abroad"
  3. ^ "Vlaho Bukovac". Liverpoolmuseums.org.uk. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  4. ^ "Vlaho Bukovac House". artiststudiomuseum.org. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ a b c d "Vlaho Bukovac". Migk.hr. Museums and Galleries of Konavle. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  7. ^ Ferrari, Carlo, ed. (1897). "Notizie Biografiche". La Biennale di Venezia (in Italian). Venice. 2: 14.
  8. ^ Kiš, Patricia (4 June 2020). "EKSKLUZIVNO 'Portret bogate Julije Vlaho Bukovac naslikao je za 25 dolara u San Franciscu. Noću je radio u kavani, a pokrovitelj mu je bio - brijač'". Jutarnji.hr. Jutarnji List. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  9. ^ "MUZEJI I GALERIJE KONAVALA -ZAVIČAJNI MUZEJ KONAVALA" (PDF). mdc.hr. muzejski dokumentacijski centar. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  10. ^ a b Dimitrijević, M. "Vlaho Bukovac u Narodnom muzeju". Politika Online. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  11. ^ Dani, Ahmad Hasan; Lorenzo, José Luis, eds. (2005). History of Humanity: The nineteenth century. United Kingdom: Routledge. p. 349.
  12. ^ Spasić, Goran; Reljić, Jelica; Perišić, Miroslav (2012). Kultura Srba u Dubrovniku 1790-2010 iz riznice Srpske pravoslavne crkve Svetog blagoveštenja. Beograd: Arhiv Srbije. p. 223.
  13. ^ a b c Bukovac, Vlaho, Enciklopedija.hr
  14. ^ "Члан САНУ". 2016-03-04. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  15. ^ a b "Vlaho Bukovac (Croatian 1855-1923)". bonhams.com. Bonhams. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  16. ^ a b "Searching for Blaise: Vlaho Bukovac (1855 - 1922) and his Northern Patrons". Liverpoolmuseums.org.uk. National Museums Liverpool.
  17. ^ Tasić, Piše: Jelena (24 December 2020). "Majstor portreta, originalni dekadent". Dnevni list Danas (in Serbian). Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  18. ^ "Kako je hrvatski umetnik Vlaho Bukovac postao omiljeni slikar srpskih vladara". NOVA portal. 2020-12-23. Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  19. ^ Petrović, Petar (2014). Slikar Vlaho Bukovac (1855-1922). Belgrade: Narodni muzej.
  20. ^ a b "Живот је бајка - ВЛАХО БУКОВАЦ | Politikin Zabavnik". politikin-zabavnik.co.rs. Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  21. ^ Димитријевић, Милица. "Прва ретроспектива Влаха Буковца у Србији". Politika Online. Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  22. ^ Kapičić, Anđa (2002). Bukovac i Crna Gora. Cetinje: Matica crnogorska.
  23. ^ Petrović, Jelena (2016-03-04). "Crnogorke pod bojom Vlaha Bukovca". Plava Zvijezda. Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  24. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-04-14. Retrieved 2021-01-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Zlatna dvorana". enciklopedija.hr. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  26. ^ "Theatre Database / Theatre Architecture - database, projects". Theatre-architecture.eu.
  27. ^ Bezensek, Anton, ed. (1895). "Kulturno-povjestne viesti; "Hrvatski Salon"". Jugoslavjanski Glasnik. Celje, Slovenia: Dragotin Hribar: I-10.
  28. ^ a b Kršnjavi, Izidor (1905). "Pogled Na Razvoj Hrvatske Umjetnosti U Moje Doba". Kolo. Zagreb: Matica Hrvatska. 1: 215–307. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  29. ^ Knežević, Snješka (1996). Zagrebačka zelena potkova (in Croatian). Zagreb: Školska knjiga. pp. 149–160. ISBN 953-0-60524-2.
  30. ^ Harambašić, August (1898–1899). "Listak; Umjetnost". Preporod. Zagreb: Tiskom Antuna Scholza. I–II (1): 30. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  31. ^ "Master painter: Vlaho Bukovac". ikonartsfoundation.org. Ikon Arts Foundation. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  32. ^ Bulimbašić, Sandi. "Prilog poznavanju povijesti Društva hrvatskih umjetnika "Medulić" 1908.–1919" (PDF). core.ac.uk/. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  33. ^ Damjanovic, Dragan (2020). The Interiors of Art Nouveau Period. Bruxelles: Réseau Art Nouveau Network. pp. 166–175. ISBN 978-2-930835-11-2. The main reading room contains national and universal topics alike. . . On the other hand, the particularities of Croatian cultural history are represented by Vlaho Bukovac’s canvas Development of Croatian Culture.
  34. ^ Bukovac, Vlaho. "Moj život". Google Books. Književni jug. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  35. ^ Stallaerts, Robert (2010). Historical Dictionary of Croatia (3rd ed.). United Kingdom: Scarecrow Press. p. 15. ISBN 9780810873636.
  36. ^ "Kratka povijest - Kuća Bukovac". Migk.hr. Muzeja i galerija Konavala. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  37. ^ Cvetković, Snežana. The Legacy of Milan Jovanovic Stojimirovic in the Art Department of the Museum in Smederevo. Academia.edu. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  38. ^ Vera Kružić Uchytil, Vlaho Bukovac : Život i djelo (1855-1920), Nakladni zavod Globus, Zagreb, 2005, pp. 44-48, 340–341, 345–346.
  39. ^ ""Vlaho Bukovac - Slikarstvo neprolazne lepote" - Kultura - Dnevni list Danas". Danas.rs (in Serbian). 17 December 2020. Retrieved 2021-01-17.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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): 193-98
  • 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)

External links[edit]