Paja Jovanovic was born in 1859. Paja childhood was spent in Versec. He left his birth place when he was 15 years old to go to Vienna He became one of Serbia’s most famous painters. He is best known for his historical paintings. The Belgrade museum holds 211 works. These include paintings, drawings and photographs. His paintings can be found in many European museums. His famous works include 'Serbian Migration', 'Crowning of Stephan Dusan', and 'Fencing'. He painted a historical recreation of a triumphal medieval scene, 'Marriage of Tzar Dulan' in 1906 (figure 1). There are page boys and two other children wearing tunics and capes. The page boy is in light green. The Tzar is well beloved still. Under his kingship medieval Serbia was a much bigger country than it is now. It extended to the Ottoman border and present day Bulgaria was then part of Serbia.
Paja's father was Stevan Jovanovic. His mother was Ernestina, nee Deot. Stevan had a photography business in the town of Versec.
Paja Jovanovic was born June 4. 1859. Paja's childhood was spent in Versec. He left his birth place when he was 15 to go to Vienna. HBC has discovered two photographs of Paja. One is of him as a boy of 6 years (figure 1). This photograph was most likely taken by his father in his studio in Versec. The boy is dressed in a long trousered suit styled in traditional Serbian fashion. He is wearing a white long sleeved shirt with a collar and fluffy cuffs. He is most likely wearing black boots. His hair is dark and cut short in no particular style. The second photograph is of Paja when he is 15. Again the photograph is most likely one taken by his father. It shows him dressed as a then fashionable teenager would have dressed from an artistic background. He has a relaxed but serious youthful look about him. He wears a hat and his hair is still short and a little untidy. He wears a white shirt with what looks like a a bow tie. His jacket has pointed lapels and a button holes.
Paja’s interest in painting seems to have stemmed from visiting churches which held works of by Pavel Durkovic and Arsa Teodorovic. At school his art teacher was called Vodecki and he found him an inspiring teacher. Paja learn much from this talented teacher so much so that it was decided to send him to the respected Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. He went with his father (1875). He was taught by Professor Christian Griepenkerl (1877). An artist who also inspired him during this period was Leopold Carl Miller. Paje was a student in many of his courses. Paja graduated in 1880.
Paja’s fame came from a decision he made at this time to paint themes about the Balkans. Some of these paintings depict the children of aristocratic and peasant families and their different way of life. His work can be divided into four periods of his artistic career. These are 1) landscape paintings, 2) portraits, 3) art focusing on the female form, and 4) Balkan historic themes. It is not known when Paja decided to live in Belgrade but it seems this was his favourite city after 1938 when he left Vienna. Belgrade was a city he returned to after completing painting commissions for clients from around the world.
His apartment and studio in Vienna contained many art treasures he had collected on his travels. Many of these furnishings appeared in the portraits he painted of famous people over the period 1895 to 1938. He first became famous with an historical theme painting called ‘The Wounded Montenegrin’. He became more widely known after exhibiting his work ‘The Coronation of Emperor Dusan’ at the Paris Exhibition of 1900.
Jovanovic became one of Serbia’s most famous painters. He is best known for his historical paintings. The Belgrade museum holds 211 works. These include paintings, drawings and photographs. His paintings can be found in many European museums. Some of Paja’s paintings feature on HBC pages about the history of the Balkans. His famous works include 'Serbian Migration', 'Crowning of Stephan Dusan' and 'The Fencing Lesson'. It is the historic depictions of important moments in Serbian history painted between 1900 and 1905 which will be of interest to HBC readers. Paja’s painting 'The Coronation of Tsar Dusan' shows several youths. Some are page boys and are seen dressed in period clothes. Two are dressed in red and the other a blue costume. The boys in red appear to be connected to the Serbian Orthodox Church. A boy is standing next to Tsar Dusan. This is his young son. The boy is dressed in colourful robes. On the opposite side of Tsar Dusan is his wife. We also see 'The Marriage of Tsar Dusan'.
A contrasting painting is the one titled ‘The Fencing Lesson.’ In this picture a young peasant boy wearing an open necked white shirt. He is dressed in a long green jacket. He does not wear shoes or stockings. His fencing lesson is with his instructor and his fencing skill is being developed by the instructors moving the boy’s arms to develop his kinetic fencing skills.
His painting 'Serbian Migration' is featured else where on HBC pages about the history of Serbia.
There are several paintings which would be of interest to the HBC readership. Some of Paja’s paintings feature on HBC pages about the history of the Balkans. There are several paintings which would be of interest to the HBC readership. In these paintings children are featured wearing period costume.
Jovanovic lived a long life. He died in 1957.
Museum of Belgrade. Paja Jovanovica. This is a biography of Jovanovica's life and painting.
"The Museum Guide: Paja Jovanovica".
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