Paja Jovanović, a painter, has remained,
along with Uroš Predić, the most significant representative of the
artistic scene of the Serbian realism. His works can be found in
many European museums.
He spent his long and happy life
in the time between the two centuries, which are connected with many
dramatic events, social-historical turmoils and important scientific
inventions. In this period many important changes happened in art
and painting, in the west European countries, as well as in the Serbian
Paja Jovanović was born in
Vršac, on 4 June, 1859, in the family of a photographer Stevan
Jovanović and Ernestina, née Deot. He received his first lessons
in drawing from his grammar school teacher, Vodecki. In 1875 he
went to Vienna with his father, where he enrolled in the Academy
of Fine Arts in 1877, in the class of the professor Christian Gripenkerl.
After he had finished his schooling at the Academy, he continued
his studies in the master’s schools of Christian Gripenkerl and
Leopold Carl Miller.
Encouraged to visit the Balkan
region during his holidays, he studied the customs and folklore of
the people from this area, and in 1882 he was awarded the prize of
the Academy and was given the czar scholarship for the composition
The wounded Montenegrin. The European public, interested in the events
on the Balkans, directed their attention to the young painter, and
in 1883 he signed a very convenient contract with the London gallery
“French”. He continued his travelling through Caucasus, Morocco,
Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Italy, and Spain. A great number of sketches,
notes, 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, Cockfighting...
The reputation and fame of Paja
Jovanović in the world have their repercussion among the Serbian
people as well. 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, such as Migration of Serbs and The Proclamation
of Dušan’s Law.
Apart from his genre-compositions
and works with the historical content, the artist gained popularity
as the remarkable portraitist. He immortalized the crowned people,
the artists, the politicians and the wealthy people. His famous portraits
are: Mihailo Pupin, King Alexander Karađorđević, The Painter Simington...
He painted the portraits of his longtime model and wife, Muni with
The works of church painting also
made the field of Jovanović’s interest. He painted the iconostasis
in Novi Sad, Dolovo and Sremski Karlovci.
On the very top of the Serbian painting,
laurelled with awards and medals, Paja Jovanović is the painter whose
popular works were used to educate many generations of young people.
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 Legacy of Paja Jovanović’’, which belongs to
the Town Museum of Belgrade.