Geneology of Obrenović by Đorđe Krstić, around 1880.

The painter Đorđe Krstić played a significant role in the construction of national culture and art in the 19th century. As a scholarship holder of Prince Milan Obrenović at the Academy in Munich, Đorđe Krstić, from the very beginning of his academic career, linked his work to the Obrenović dynasty and especially to Prince Milan. Krstić’s early compositions, “The Road to the Liberation of the East” from 1871 and “The Proclamation of August 10th and Its Consequences” from 1872, aimed at glorifying the Serbian principality and Prince Milan as the initiators of national liberation. The significance of the ideology of nationalism in the political and cultural life of the 19th century in the Principality and Kingdom of Serbia conditioned the Serbian rulers, within the framework of political propaganda, to present themselves as contemporary national heroes. Krstić clearly visualized this idea through the character of Prince Milan. The emphasis of Đorđe Krstić as a dynastic painter is also confirmed by the artist’s further work, such as the allegorical drawing “Genealogy of Obrenović” from 1880. Krstić applied a standard iconographic repertoire to the drawing, known for the allegorical artistic discourse of contemporary European art. Allegorical speech in the service of nationalism conditioned the construction of compositions that aimed to express the idea of the events of national history, as well as to serve in active political work. Since the beginning of the 19th century, emblematic speech, allegorical personifications, as well as allegorical compositions have been used continuously in Serbian art. One of them is Krstić’s “Lineage of the Obrenović Dynasty”, which clearly indicates the description of this work: “In the middle… stands a bush with three branches, which represent the lineage of Miloš, Jevrem and Jovan Obrenović. Miloš’s and Jovan’s have dried up and Jevrem’s is making great progress. Under the bush stands the goddess Serbia, leaning her left hand on the shield, and in front of her lie emblems (signs) of folk and education. It is all in the ermine of the Serbian coat of arms. On the left side, from which is Miloš’s branch, stands a sad girl, holding a fiddle in her hand, and mourning for Prince Miloš Obrenović II and Prince Mihailo, whose graves are visible, and behind them the Takovo Church is growing, the girl looks at the broken chains, broken wheels and broken daggers, reminding the viewer of the liberator of Serbia, the hero Prince Miloš of Takovo. On the right side, where is the branch of Jevrem, there is a people’s soldier with a dagger in his hand, with his left foot he is trampling the big Turkish city flag, and behind his back the city of Niš can be seen in flames. It reminds the viewer of the conquest of Niš, which represents the expansion of Serbia, the great work and heritage of our chivalrous Lord (Prince of Milan). Above the coat of arms stands His Majesty Prince Milan, and next to him sits Her Majesty Princess Natalie, holding on her lap His Majesty Crown Prince Alexander, the hope of our younger generation. Behind him, you can see the city and a part of the city of Belgrade at sunrise, which means that under Obrenović, the sun of an independent state shone on Serbia.”

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