Artworks in the Collection

Nataša Bošković (1930)

Between the two world wars, Stojanović repeatedly recorded the images of persons from the world of theatre: Dobrica Milutinović, Vela Nigrinova, Branislav Nušić, Žanka Stokić. He modeled the portrait of the prima ballerina of the National Theatre in Belgrade under the title Mrs. N. B. B. (Nataša Bošković Bradna) in 1930. That was the year of her triumph in the role of Odette in Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”, in which she performed from 1925 to 1941, first in the role of a court lady, then as Odile and she finally shone out in the leading role. Present on the recently-formed Belgrade ballet scene from 1921, Bošković debut was as Coppélia and grew into a veritable star by the end of the decade, and at the beginning of the following decade she went to Paris and London for further education. It was there that she was noticed by ballet impresarios, which led to her engagement in the Russian Ballet international ballet company (1934–1935), with which she performed as prima ballerina on a tour of Africa, Asia and Australia. Upon returning to Belgrade, her travels took her, during and after the war, via Vienna, Munich, Paris to New York, where she worked as a ballet teacher until her death (1973). Compared to the rest of Stojanović’s opus, this work was created as a finale of a series of portraits stylized in the spirit of ancient-world archaism, and at the same time as one of the first steps towards the realism from the beginning of the 1930s. By contrasting the naturalist finish with the absent, almost blank facial expression, Stojanović wanted to emphasize the difference between the real person and the multitude of characters she played as a ballerina. On the creative level, such a solution is a reflection of the prominence he gave to the problem of plasticity in order to achieve a balance, as he himself said, between “pure decorative quality and naturalism [which] always signifies a decline in portrait art.”

Sreten Stojanović