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Monday, December 18, 2017

Emanuel Vidović

The Roofs of Split, 1937, Emanuel Vidovic.
During the spring of 2014, on a cruise primarily to visit Venice, my wife and I enjoyed the extra added attraction of visiting the Dalmatian coast (the eastern shore of the Aegean Sea). We visited the mountainous little country of Montenegro, plus the Croatian cities of Dubrovnik and Split. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that, while I had vaguely heard of Dubrovnik, insofar as I knew, Split was always preceded by the word "banana." However, given the artist and history buff within me, I quickly learned that the city was primarily famous for two men, the 4th-Century Roman Emperor, Diocletian had his palace there (some of which still stands), and the Croatian sculptor, Ivan Meštrović (whose former seaside villa has been converted to a museum showcasing his work). Actually, there was another Croatian artist who was pretty outstanding, although his work maybe doesn't measure up to that of Mestrovic. Emanuel Vidovic, (who was a painter, in any case, so it's hard to compare the two) also has a museum in Split (bottom), though it's not nearly as monumental as Mestrovic's.
Croatia’s leading Post-impressionist, Vidović was consumed by a life-long fascination with Adriatic townscapes, and the city of Split.
Emanuel Vidovic was born in 1870 in Split. He was educated in a local elementary school, and later the Imperial Royal High School, where drawing was a major part of his curriculum. Eager to study art, in 1887 Vidovic initially took up architecture at the well-known Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice. A short time later he transferred to painting only to become disillusioned with the institution and techniques he was taught. He quit formal instruction after just three years. He moved on independently, still searching and developing his own skills. During this period, he drew landscapes of Venice to support himself. In 1892, he began to work at the Famiglia Artistica in Milan, which was founded as part of the Scapigliatura movement by artists, writers, poets and painters. Its bohemian character defined the nature of the movement. It was there that Emanuel Vidovic began to refine his landscape skills.

Work from Vidovic's Italian Scapigliatura period.
(Scapigliatura doesn't seem to have a translation.)
Exhibiting his first set of works in Milan in 1894, Vidovic was inspired by the scenic views of the lagoons and canals of a fishing village named Chioggia. There he spent time, painting works which bore the character of symbolism and were filled with light and luminescence. Upon returning to Split in 18989, Vidovic introduced himself to the social circles of local artists and painters then began work at his own studio while also teaching art at the local high school. Vidolvic exhibited his works, along with Josip Lalic's, at the first exhibition of the Literary Art Club in 1901, a newly established showcase for modern art in Split. He first exhibited his work as a solo artist in 1903 in the cities of Zagreb and Split. The quality of his paintings later took him to shows in London, Milan, Sofia, and Vienna. Continuing in the field of teaching, the following year Vidovic became a drawing instructor at the School of Crafts in Split. He resumed solo exhibitions in the years after WW I, first in Split, then in 1923 in Prague.

Evidence of Vidovic's stylistic experimentation around the turn of the century. (Many of his paintings are untitled.)
As his style evolved, Vidovic also created paintings in different shades of pastels, of landscapes, and interiors of buildings. A highly acclaimed series of Trogir landscapes (a small coastal village west of Split) emerged in later years, showing characteristics that were distinct from his Chioggia landscapes. About the same time, Vidovic's paintings of interiors began to transform into three-dimensional illusionary art, adding great depth to his work in the period from 1938 to 1942. His contribution to Croatian art made him a highly respected figure, affording him invitations to renowned art festivals in Europe. It also earned him a membership in the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Split Cathedral Interior, 1939, Emanuel Vidovic.
Emanuel Vidovic painted iridescent landscapes composed of textures of crepuscular (Sun rays of God) light and color, which made their way into the world of art in Croatia and other European countries. Although considered a 19th-Century artist, Vidovic experimented with different styles of the time, such as Post-impressionist, Art Nouveau and Expressionism to arrive at his own inimitable, modern style. Many of his early works are steeped in Slavic history. Later, Vidovic brought interiors of church interiors to his canvases. He was also a gifted graphic artist whose satirical caricatures were published in books and publications in Croatia, bringing him fame as a man with a high degree of social awareness. Emanuel Vidovic died in 1953 at the age of eighty-three. Split, which was part of Yugoslavia at the time. Today, nearly a thousand of his paintings and drawings have been preserved in a Romanesque house in the heart of Split, The Galerija Emanuel Vidovic.

Opatija, (northern Croatia), Emanuel Vidovic
My Studio, 1938, Emanuel Vidovic

Galerija Emanuel Vidovic, Split, Croatia

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