Dimension: 51,5×39 cm
Painting Technique: Oil on canvas painting
Painting style: Symbolism
(Cavtat, 4 July 1855 – Prague, 23 April 1922) Vlaho Bukovac is definitely one of the most important Croatian artists. And he enjoys this status in our history of art not only for his exceptional artistic talent, the ease with which he painted and the large number of paintings that he created during his lifetime, but also for his social status. Bukovac was our first modern artist whose work made possible the acquisition of his own palace in the centre of the capital city, and who, as an intellectual, attained a high social status and recognition.
Earlier periods of his life, though, are reminiscent of a novel by Dickens. After spending a carefree childhood in his native Cavtat, as an eleven-year-old his uncle took him to New York, to educate and find him employment. After his uncle suddenly died and his widow remarried, little Vlaho, in a foreign country and as a victim of family intrigue, ended up in a juvenile reformatory.
It was there that a teacher noticed his artistic talent and he asked Vlaho Bukovac to draw a portrait in front of everybody.
In a twist of fate, this was his first public accolade. After the misunderstanding in America was resolved, Vlaho returned to Cavtat to his parents, then he spent about one year as a cadet on a ship, but an accident decided his future fate; one night as he hurriedly carried plates across the deck, he failed to see a hole underneath and fell deep into the ship’s hold. After he barely managed to recover from a difficult injury and after a period of rest in Cavtat, he decided to travel across the ocean again. He lived and worked in Peru for a year, and after that he spent two years in San Francisco.
This is where he started to earn money painting bourgeois portraits, but he eventually decided to return home for good after concluding that “America was a good school but only for merchants.” However, the adventure was not over yet, because the train that Bukovac travelled to New York with, capsized and a lot of people died, but this time he was one of the few who remained unscathed.