The Life of Pavle Beljanski

1919–1923.

Collector’s Passion

The news of his father’s death found Beljanski in Berlin (1921), where his work had taken him after Stockholm and Warsaw. In order to overcome this loss more easily, his mother, Milana, moved from Svilajnac to Belgrade, where she could live with her son Pavle during his home leave. After Berlin, Beljanski went to Warsaw again and afterwards to Vienna, which played a decisive role in his orientation towards collecting works of art.
He acquired the first pieces of period furniture for his apartment and probably a few paintings during his stay in Berlin. His tendency towards decorating his living quarters in an antique style marked, in fact, the beginning of his collection of foreign art, which he mainly expanded before World War II. His passion for antiquities and art was encouraged in Vienna by his aunt Sofija, the widow of famous general Avram Đukić, who was also a great art connoisseur and collector. The furniture, paintings, drawings, sculptures, tapestries, objects of applied art, valuable books, and gramophone records – they all reveal the numerous aesthetical preferences of Pavle Beljanski.

The Encounter with Marino Tartaglia in Vienna

At that time, Vienna still boasted the charm of metropolis of tsars. Museums, galleries, and antique shops displayed wealth the mighty empire collected during its rule. Not only acquiring furniture for his collection, but also paintings, Beljanski was often burdened by doubt in authenticity of pieces he bought. With time he realized that his interest in art is turning into art collecting, which could’ve only made sense if it had a clear and distinct concept. His stay in Vienna was marked by an acquaintance with young painter Marino Tartaglia (1923), who played an important role in solving collector’s dillemas that troubled Pavle Beljanski. Spiritual bond between these two young men enabled an earnest dialogue on the subject of art and aesthetic values. Remembering those young days, Marino Tartagliaa once said that Beljanski had «an astounding gift and a great insight in art». First encounter with Tartaglia happened in 1923 in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians Embassy in Vienna, where the painter appeared with an intention to earn some much needed money by painting a portrait of a Serbian envoy. At that time, the great Serbian painter Paja Jovanović was painting a portrait of the Charge d’Affaires, so Tartaglia proposed Beljanski to paint him. That is how the painting A Young Diplomat came to be. The recognition Tartaglia received for this piece in 1929 in Barcelona – a gold medal and a diploma – was extremely important for the young artist at the beginning of his career, as well as for the young collector. Owning a picture of a painter from his homeland which value surpassed the national borders was a starting point for a collection of works of contemporary artists of a young state Beljanski represented in Europe.