Artworks in the Collection

Nadežda PETROVIĆ
Peasant with Harelip (1907)


In the first catalogue of the artworks in the Memorial Collection from 1957, the painting was listed as Peasant from Šumadija. It came from the collection of the painter’s sister, Mica Mišković, and it was purchased from the son of Milorad Marčetić, a collector from Sremski Karlovci (before 1957). It was painted at the very end of the Serbian period, and it contains a close-up of a face, represented by characteristic “descriptive”, broad and pastose brushstrokes. Marking the contours with winding lines, the artist forms the most prominent parts using plenty of white; darker, thinner and broken lines similar to the arabesques she uses to achieve solidity of form. Although winding and dynamic, these lines lose that overemphasized, almost caricature-like appearance, characteristic of most portraits of that time, while the eyes are less accentuated, but still definitely a factor in psychology of a face. Painting with broad strokes, Nadežda insists on monumentality, which brings this portrait closer to her Self-portrait from 1907. Both paintings indicate confident approach, accumulated knowledge, a refined sense of composition and, above all, a unique use of colour. Apart from denoting the end of her period of maturation and defining her authentic poetics, these paintings also mark her departure from the Munich visual culture. That crucial moment was followed by the exhibition of the Yugoslav colony in 1907, spending time and painting with Grohar in the snow-covered Belgrade, travelling to Vienna and visiting Meštrović’s studio. In a later stage of her journey, in Munich, she saw Exter and his solo exhibition which was part of the international Secession exhibition; in August she was at the Venice Biennale from where she went on to Verona, Florence and Rome where she expressed her wish to work in the fresco technique.

Nadežda Petrović