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BALKAN

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 518 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BALKAN STATES Until quite recent times the Balkan States had no part at all in the history of art. But at the Paris Exhibition of 19o0 it was noted with surprise that even in soutl;-eastern Europe 518 there was a certain pulsation of new life. And there were also signs that painting in the Balkans, which hitherto had appeared only as a reflex of Paris and Munich art, would ere long assume a definite national character. At this Exhibition Bulgaria seemed to be the most backward of all, its painters still representing the manners and customs of their country in the style of the illustrated papers. Market-places are seen, where women with golden chains, half-nude boys and old Jews are moving about; or cemeteries, with orthodox clergy praying and women sobbing; military pageants, wine harvests and horse fairs, old men performing the national dance, and topers jesting with brown-eyed girls. Such are the subjects that Anton Mittoff, Raymund Ulrich and Jaroslav Vesin paint. More original is Mvkuicka. In his most important work he represented the late princess of Bulgaria sitting on a throne, solemn and stately, in the background mosaics rich in gild, tall slim lilies at her side. In his other pictures he painted Biblical landscapes, battlefields wrapped in sulphurous smoke, and old Rabbis—all with a certain uncouth barbaric power. The Bulgarian painters have not as yet arrived at the aesthetic phase. One of the best among them, who paints delicate pale green landscapes, is Charalampi Ilieff; and Nicholas Michailoff, at Munich, has executed pictures, representing nymphs, that arrest attention by their delicate tone and their beautiful colouring. Quite modern was the effect of the small Croatian-Slavonic Gallery in the Exhibition. Looking at the pictures there, the visitor might imagine himself on the banks of the Seine rather than in the East. The French saying, "Faire des Whistler, faire des Dagnan, faire des Corriere," is eminently applicable to their work. Vlaho Bukovak, Nicola Masic, Csiks and Medovic all paint very modern pictures, and in excellent taste, only it is surprising to find upon them Croatian and not Parisian signatures. Precisely the same judgment must be passed with regard to Rumania. Most of the painters live in Paris or Munich, have sought their inspiration at the feet of the advanced masters there, and paint, as pupils of these masters, pictures just as good in taste, just as cosmopolitan and equally devoid of character. Irene Deschly, a pupil of Carriere, illustrates the songs of Francois Coppee; Verona Gargouromin is devoted to the pale symbolism of Dagnan-Bouveret. Nicolas Grant paints bright landscapes, with apple trees with their pink blossoms, like Darnoye. Nicolas Gropeano appears as the double of Aman-Jean, with his female heads and pictures from fairy tales. Olga Koruca studied under Puvis de Chavannes, and painted Cleopatra quite in the tone of her master. A landscape by A. Segall was the only work that appeared to be really Rumanian, representing thatched huts. Servia is in striking contrast to Rumania. No trace of modern influence has penetrated to her. There historical painting, such as was in vogue in France and Germany a generation ago, is the order of the day. Risto Voucanovitch paints his scenes from Servian history in brown; Paul Ivanovitch his in greyish plein-air. But in spite of this pate painting, the latter's works have no modern effect—as little as the sharply-drawn small landscapes of his brother Svatislav Ivanovitch. (R. MR.)
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