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Paja Jovanović

Paja Jovanović
Паја Јовановић
Pavle "Paja" Jovanović
Born (1859-06-16)June 16, 1859
Vršac, Voivodeship of Serbia and Banat of Temeschwar, Austrian Empire (today Serbia)
Died November 30, 1957(1957-11-30) (aged 98)
Vienna, Austria
Nationality Serbian
Education Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna
Known for Painting
Notable work Čas Mačevanja (Fencing) (1884)
Velike seobe Srba (Serbian Migrations) (1896)
Krunisanje cara Dušana (Crowning of Stefan Dušan) (1900)
Movement Realism

Pavle "Paja" Jovanović (Serbian Cyrillic: Павле "Паја" Јовановић; IPA: [pâʋlɛ pǎːja jɔʋǎːnɔʋit͡ɕ]; 16 June 1859 – 30 November 1957) was a Serbian Realist painter. He is considered one of Serbia's greatest academic painters. His most famous and recognizable paintings are the Serbian Migrations, the Crowning of Stefan Dušan, the Takovo Uprising, Cockfighting, Decorating of the Bride, and the Fencing Lesson. He also painted many famous portraits. While many of his works can be seen in many European museums across the continent some have been lost, like Furor Teutonicus, a monumental oil on canvas depicting Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.


Paja Jovanović was born in Vršac, Voivodeship of Serbia and Banat of Temeschwar, Austrian Empire (today Vojvodina province, Serbia). His father was photographer Stevan Jovanović and his mother was Ernestina Jovanović, née Deot. He spent his childhood and early youth in this town, where he had the opportunity to see the iconostasis of Pavel Đurković and Arsa Teodorović in the town churches. He received his first lectures and knowledge from his teacher of painting, Vodecki. His father took him to Vienna in 1875 when he was 15, where he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in 1877 in the class of the professor Christian Griepenkerl. He finished the Academy of Fine Arts in 1880, attending several important courses taught by Leopold Carl Müller, known as an “orientalist”. In the following period, having noticed greater interest of Europe for the Balkans, he painted mostly scenes from the life of the Albanians, Montenegrins, Herzegovinians, which brought him great reputation. Encouraged to visit the Balkan region during his hiatus, he studied the customs and folklore of the people, and in 1882 he was awarded the prize of the Academy and was given the czar scholarship for the composition The Wounded Montenegrin.

Serbian Migrations (1896) depicting the Great Serb Migrations, on display in the National Museum of Serbia

The public and many art critics directed their attention to the young painter, and in 1883 he signed a contract with the London gallery simply named “French”. He continued his travelling through Caucasus, Morocco, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Italy, and Spain. A great number of sketches, notes, and studies, along with the collected objects from the life of the common people, will find their place in his famous genre-compositions, such as: Fencing, Decorating of the Bride, and Cockfighting. Some of Jovanović's most remarkable praises were gathered at two of his greatest exhibitions: Millennium exhibition in Budapest in 1896, where he prepared Migration of Serbs for entry, but Triptych was sent instead, and the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900, for which he had painted a great historical composition The Proclamation of Dušan's Law.

As early as in 1893 he was proclaimed for the member of the Serbian Royal Academy. He was given the task to make the monumental, historical compositions. After 1905 he devoted himself exclusively to painting the portraits in the style of academic realism for the rich clientele, and he became very famous thanks to them. Some of the most famous include Portrait of the Painter Simington, Portrait of Mihajlo Pupin, Portrait of the Artist's Wife Muni, Portrait of the Sculptor Đoka Jovanović, and others. He painted the portraits of his longtime model and wife, Muni with special care.

He made the iconostasis in the church in DolovoTemplate:Disambiguation needed and Saborna church in Novi Sad, which was painted without commission. He spent most of his time in his atelier in Vienna where he settled, and occasionally travelled to Belgrade. In 1940 he was given the title of the honorary citizen of Vršac, and in 1949 he was given the Order zasluga za narod (Merit for People) of the first category. He lived quietly and lonely, after his wife's early death, in Vienna until his own death in 1957. According to his will, the urn with his ashes was to be moved to Belgrade and where “The Legacy of Paja Jovanović” was opened in 1970, as well in Vršac. Later, in the building of the Old Pharmacy on the Stairs, in 1977 the permanent commemorative exhibition of Paja Jovanović was opened. The works of Paja Jovanović have been kept in the Town Museum of Vršac, along with the exceptionally famous Vršac Triptych. Most of his works and personal belongings can be found in the Town Museum of Belgrade.


This is a partial list of works.

Work Year Notes Location
Wounded Montenegrin 1882 oil on canvas, 186×114 cm Gallery of Matica Srpska Notes
Fancing c. 1884 oil on canvas, 60,5×40,5 cm National Museum of Serbia
Fancing c. 1883 sketch, pencil, 90,5 x 59 cm Belgrade City Museum
In Ambush 1884–86 oil on canvas, 27,5×38 cm Gallery of Matica Srpska
Arbanas 1884–86 oil on panel, 18×24,3 cm Gallery of Matica Srpska
Albanian with cibuk 1884–86 oil on panel, 36,5×43,5 cm National Museum of Serbia
Traitor 1886 oil on canvas, 148×100 cm National Museum of Serbia
Decorating Bride 1886 oil on canvas, 135×96,5 cm National Museum of Serbia
Forgiveness of Blood (Umir Krivi) 1889 oil on canvas,137×95 cm Gallery of Matica Srpska
Furor Teutonikus 1889 heliogravura, 81,7x62 cm Belgrade City Museum
Serbian Migrations 1896 oil on canvas, 190×126 cm National Museum in Pančevo
Serbian Migrations c. 1895 heliogravura; sketch, pencil, 94,8x62,3  cm / 119x84 cm Belgrade City Museum
Takovo Uprising 1898 oil on canvas, 190×125,5 cm National Museum of Serbia Valued at €3,000,000
Sopocani Monastery c. 1898 oil on panel, 71,2×51,8 cm National Museum of Serbia
Proglašenje Dušanovog Zakonika [1][dead link] c. 1900 oil on canvas, 126×190 cm Belgrade City Museum
Emperor Dušan's Crowning c. 1900 oil on canvas, 238×157 cm National Museum of Serbia
King Stefan of Dečani c. 1900. oil on canvas, 20×41 cm National Museum of Serbia
Rade Builder selling Monastery Manasija model c. 1905. oil on canvas, 53,3×36,5 cm National Museum of Serbia
King Milutin 1906–1912. oil on canvas, 131,5×201 cm The Orthodox cathedral of Saint Nikolaj
Archbishop Danilo 1906–1912. oil on canvas, 121×200 cm The Orthodox cathedral of Saint Nikolaj
Crusifixing 1919. oil on canvas 174×275 cm Gallery of Matica Srpska
Portrait of painter Simington c. 1895. oil on canvas, 76,5×99 cm National Museum of Serbia
Portrait of sculptor Đuro Jovanović 1906–08. oil on panel, 19,6×25 cm Gallery of Matica Srpska
Portrait of Mihailo Pupin 1903. oil on canvas, 96×114 cm National Museum of Serbia
Portrait of Ms. Pupin 1903. oil on canvas 80,5×103 cm National Museum of Serbia
Lady in pink dress 1904. oil on canvas, 62,3×117 cm National Museum of Serbia
Portrait of Dr. Shenk 1906. oil on canvas, 55×73 cm Gallery of Matica Srpska
Miss Hadson Portrait 1910. oil on canvas,89×150 cm National Museum of Serbia
Dancer Bergel c. 1913. oil on canvas, 92,5×126,5 cm National Museum of Serbia
Gedeon Dunđerski 1916. oil on canvas, 115×221 cm National Museum of Serbia
Sofia Dunđerski 1916. oil on canvas, 115×210,5 cm Gallery of Matica Srpska
Teodora Dunđerski 1916–1920. oil on canvas, 170×144 cm Gallery of Matica Srpska
Portrait of Kruna Bogdanović 1919. oil on canvas, 115×210 cm private collection
Portrait of Nikola Pašić 1922–1926. oil on canvas, 60,4×73 cm National Museum of Serbia
Wife Muni Portrait 1925. oil on canvas, 73×99 cm Gallery of Matica Srpska
Act in a red mantle[dead link] 1918–1920. oil on canvas, 115x211cm Belgrade City Museum
Self-Portrait c. 1930. oil on canvas, 29×46 cm Gallery of Matica Srpska
Marshal Tito 1947. oil on canvas, 100×150,5 cm National Museum of Serbia
Marshal Tito[dead link] 1952. sketch, 30,5 x 24 cm- Belgrade City Museum
Villa's Land – Parsifal's Dream[dead link] 1906. litograph Belgrade City Museum
Knight Miloš, King Marko and the Vila c. 1906. oil on canvas, 33,5×53 cm National Museum of Serbia
Diana 1906–1908. oil on canvas, 77×68 cm National Museum of Serbia
Nude 1906–1908. oil on canvas, 40,5×50,5 cm National Museum of Serbia
Flowers 1942. oil on panel, 30×40,2 cm National Museum of Serbia
Flowers [dead link] c. 1950. oil on panel, 30,5×40,5 cm Belgrade City Museum
Portrait of Queen Maria Karađorđević[dead link] 1925–1930. oil on canvas, 210×102 cm Belgrade City Museum
Portrait of Milutin Milanković 1943. oil on canvas Gallery of Matica Srpska
Portrait of Milutin Milanković[dead link] 1945. pen and chalk scetch, 29,8 h 36,7 cm Belgrade City Museum


Further reading

  • A Survey of Serbian art by Ljubica D. Popovich

External links

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