Ivana Kobilca (1861–1926) was not a landscape painter.
In her works, the nature is mostly part of the backdrop and background of a
figure. Kobilca’s pure landscapes are rare and despite loose brushwork, fresh
colours and framing that speak of the painter’s familiarity of contemporary art
currents, they remain bound to Realism.
Kobilca constantly returned to paragons she studied in
Munich and Paris when she was in her 20s and early 30s. She painted her most
ambitious works incorporating nature between 1889 and 1893. Paintings From the Children’s World, By the Well and Summer, all dated to 1889, showcase the influence of Munich
contemporary masters on view at the Glaspalast. Children in Grass and Under a
Pergola meanwhile exhibit the influences of Parisian Salons and especially
the neighbouring Barbizon, which was in Kobilca’s time there a completely
established art colony. On occasion, Kobilca also merged landscape and still
life, especially when working at the Kolovec Manison where she stayed with the
Kobilca belongs to the second generation of Slovenian
Realists, together with Anton Ažbe, Jožef Petkovšek and Ferdo Vesel. Of the
four, only Vesel made numerous landscapes, also because he outlived the rest by
decades. His works parallel the Impressionist pictures in their spontaneity and
the treatment of light, while Kobilca’s landscapes mostly follow in the path of
the Šubic brothers. Hence, her landscapes are also small Realist studies of
terrain and weather, with exceptions like the sketch of Sarajevo’s cityscape.
Questions regarding Kobilca’s landscapes are today also
relevant for the art market, where they are in demand due to the artist’s fame
and not because of their intrinsic quality. Among Kobilca’s students there were
several amateur landscape painters, for example Rita Passini (1882–1976) in
Sarajevo and Margarete and Hanni Schnock in Berlin. In Sarajevo, Kobilca
socialized with a group of pleinairist artists, who exchanged works amongst
themselves. Together with the lack of primary sources and of referential
Kobilca’s landscapes, which often vary in quality, this results in a difficult
and thankless task of determining true authorship of extant landscapes.
5. November–2. December 2020
National Gallery of Slovenia