Two young women, dressed in the regional ethnic costumes of both Bela Krajina and Gorenjska (White and Upper Carniola, respectively), are reading a letter together. The artist placed a spindle next to them, likely as a decorative element. The National Gallery bought the work from the artist in 1922 under the title Belokranjici
), or Friends
. Vesel was interested in ethnic dress even as a child, beginning to collect costumes under the influence of the veterinarian Sadnikar; Vesel, Sadnikar, and Ivana Kobilca travelled the countryside during their break from studies and made a record of local idiosyncrasies. In terms of its ethnographic theme, it can be compared with Vesel’s later work Before the Wedding
, NG S 528), while its colour palette is typical of Ferd Vesel’s (and Ivana Kobilca’s) Munich years.
The motifs of friendship took on more importance in the 19th century, in part due to the expansion of schooling, and thus to the fact that young people, girls included, spent comparatively more time with schoolmates and likeminded peers (the first Romanticists, e.g., were from circles that formed in the German university town of Jena), as well as to the rise of the middle class, the idea of free time, and various other cultural changes. Among Slovenian fine artworks, there are also a self-portrait of Jožef Tominc with his brother France, a portrait of Anton Karinger’s wife Roza and her friend the Baroness Schmidburg, as well as several depictions of Hinko Smrekar, both from his student years as well as from the time of his internment.