Paja Jovanović was and still is one of Serbia's greatest painters ever born. He was a greatly talented, virtuous painter, nationally and internationally very successful, rich, praised and adored, even though later in his life his art was criticized and dismissed by some of the 20th century art critics as outdated, dry, staged, detached from real life and a sterile example of the Academic Realism. Whatever the point of view of the scholarly art establishment, the fact is that his art was loved by the people. It has been said that, during a certain period, there was almost no Serbian home that did not have a reproduction on the wall of one of Jovanović's famous pictures.
In his long and prolific life, Pavle Jovanović created a large number of paintings, and although he also gained popularity as the remarkable portraitist, immortalizing many kings and queens, the politicians, the wealthy people and the artists, he is after all best known for his genre-compositions and works with the historical content. Although classified as the works of the Academic Realism, these depictions of the important moments from the national history, and the representations of the folkways, give more or less idealized, almost romantic, view of the history and the reality of life in the Balkans during the second part of the 19th century. Never the less, these images had a great appeal to the people of his time, and rooted themselves deeply within the national psyche. In a way they represented the powerful symbols of iconic, almost epic proportions, offering the guidelines to the national spirit that was, in those days, seeking its visual manifestation.
The most famous painting of his. The migration of the Serbs.
Preparations of the bride.
Muni, his wife, around 1900.
The artist in his Munich studio, 1889.
I remember back then, when I was a little girl, my father used to take me on his lap, open a huge, heavy book, and tell me various imaginary stories with pointing with his finger at paintings by Pavle Jovanović. Those stories of course, were not true, but I had so many fairytales in my head afterwards... I imagined the wedding of that bride, or how Serbs escaped the war over the mountains and so on... And I think that was the time when my passion of classic art started to grow. So, here it is, a drawing of Pavle "Paja" Jovanović. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy it.
Parts of the upper text were borrowed from here.