Portrait by Paja Jovanović, 1904.

The Collection of Works of Art contains a portrait of an unknown man painted by Paja Jovanović in 1904. The portrait is made in the spirit of academic realism and represents a middle-aged man with a mustache and dark hair. Pavle Paja Jovanović, together with Uroš Predić, is the most important representative of academic realism in Serbia. Since 1904, Paja Jovanović has mostly painted portraits to order. He immortalized rulers, politicians, aristocrats, bankers, scientists, artists with his brush…

He was born in Vršac on June 16, 1859, as the eldest son of Stevan Jovanović, a prominent Vršac photographer. In 1877, he enrolled at the Vienna Academy in the class of the esteemed painter Christian Gripenkerl. He completed his studies in three years but continued to study historical painting with the same professor. He also attended classes with Professor Leopold Karl Miller, a painter of the historical genre with oriental motifs. Professor Miller was very fond of him and even recommended him to Thomas Wallis, who was the owner of the French gallery “London”. He often traveled around Montenegro and the wider Balkans. He even traveled to the countries of North Africa, Egypt and Morocco. On these travels he found inspiration for his works.

At the end of 1883, Paja Jovanović began to build an international career traveling through major European art metropolises such as London, Munich, Vienna, Paris, and even Budapest. He became a highly respected academic painter of aristocratic circles. In 1898, he exhibited his painting “Fight of the Roosters” in Vienna and won a gold medal. Other well-known works are “Guslar”, “Decorating of the Bride”, “In Ambush”…

He lived and worked in Munich, and then in Paris. He was famous and Serbia was proud of its young painter. Paja became a corresponding member of the Serbian Academic Society in 1884, and in 1888 he became a regular member of the Serbian Royal Academy. He died in 1957 in Vienna.

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