Artworks in the Collection

Yellow Jug (1959)

A hundred or so still-lifes and paintings of flowers represent a notable thematic group in the artistic opus of Borivoje Stevanović. With the exception of his oldest still-lifes – The Jug and the Baking Tray, as well as Watermelon with Other Fruit from as early as 1898, he painted very few of them in the years between the two world wars. In fact, his famous composition with apples, pears and grapes entitled Fruit from 1937 is practically the only preserved piece. However, still-life and flowers became prominent in his work at the end of the fifties, when it was becoming difficult for the lively-spirited eighty-year-old to embark upon the long walks necessary in order to reach the periphery, which urban development kept pushing further away from his home. It was in some way a choice made out of necessity, but one which by no means harmed his painting. The high artistic value of the Yellow Jug from 1959 demonstrates this beyond a shadow of the doubt: in his favourite triangular composition, the vertical form of the vessel is surrounded by apples, with an inevitable white drapery. The dark, densely painted background, which in contrast with the illuminated objects emanates a spiritual experience, is interesting. On the other hand, the rich orchestration of the moderately light palette accentuates the deep blue and delicate pink colours, covered with a discreet violet. Shaded by pigment, they were applied in pastose strokes, similarly to Cézanne’s method of modelling. One should bear in mind that there are certain differences in the way Stevanović painted landscapes and indoor still-lifes. Namely, if a landscape is a certain exaltation of nature, still-life implies the painter’s focus on the beauty of his subject matter. In that sense, one can say that only in his still-lifes, such as the Yellow Jug, did Stevanović fully developed his inborn musical talent and sense of harmony.

Borivoje Stevanović