Artworks in the Collection

Nadežda PETROVIĆ
Knitting Woman (1906)


The painting was listed in the first Donation Contract from 1957. It originated from the collection of Nada Miletić, who was also, like Draguna, the daughter of Nadežda’s sister, Jela and her husband Vladimir Miletić (whose portrait the artist painted in 1910). Among the plethora of Serbian rural characters painted in her first, Serbian period (1903–1907), there is a portrait of a peasant woman immersed in her knitting. On the one hand, the painting has much in common with all of Nadežda’s work from that period: it was composed using energetic brushstrokes which stress the main contours of the form. The intense colours with white strokes and thick paste shining through make up an extraordinarily expressive and dynamic facture. The face is shaped with a few brushstrokes which highlight the characteristic features. Like most paintings from Nadežda’s travels through Serbia, this one too was painted on cardboard, as it was simpler to transport and paint on (since one can paint straight onto it, without an undercoat). On the other hand, there are noticeable differences that make this small piece characteristic and unique among the others that were painted at the time: channeling the center of the composition towards the focus of the weaver’s attention, Nadežda made use of the woman’s lowered eyes in order to avoid painting the characteristic black-dot-like eyes. That is the reason why the face loses the ecstatic expression present in most of her portraits from that period. In addition, the painter pays equal attention to both the background and the figure, which she defines with an almost unusually detailed painting of a blossoming bush in the background, emphasizing through this the current dimension of her “character and temperament.” Both the closer and the more distant details receive equal importance, and the composition itself gains support in the “inverted“ perspective characteristic of Fauvism.

Nadežda Petrović