Jama began the new century with a series of bourgeois portraits that set new standards for this genre in Slovenia. He placed Leo Souvan in an interior with discreet signifiers of his social status such as the wallpaper, his fashionably elegant attire and his dandyish, nonchalant pose. The unusual point of view, reminiscent of Degas, focuses the viewer’s attention on the subject of the portrait, who is only allotted a limited amount of space in front of the decorated wall. In the case of Rozi Bleiweis with her Children, Jama expands the genre into a portrait image in the modern style introduced by photography and it would be no surprise to learn that Jama – an occasional photographer himself, at least of the Govekar family – was working from a photograph here. The subjects of the portrait – with the exception of the baby wriggling in its mother’s lap – look straight ahead as though into a photographer’s lens.
Informality is an expression of bourgeois intimacy. Like the domestic interior, the enjoyment of life outdoors is part of the bourgeois ritual: a yearning for an elemental, unadulterated, morally prestigious world that is the antipode of everyday urban life. The framing landscape consisting of the lawn and the stand of slender, elegant birches in the background, represents a place dedicated to recreation, relaxation and a restoration of vitality and health. Jama has set the mother, with her unmistakably fin-de-siècle hairstyle, on a base consisting of her widely spreading skirt, a rich fashionable dress. Her handsome looks and the obvious health she radiates allude to the family’s wealth, at least in the allegorical sense. The delicate rose-pink shade of Rozi’s dress, while perfectly in tune with the colour composition of the work, is undoubtedly also a subtle allusion to her name.
A planar composition consisting of bands oriented parallel to the picture plane was a constant even in Jama’s early works. In this portrait we can recognise the fruits of the mentorship of Johann Herterich, which Jama enjoyed at the Munich Academy. The realistic tradition of Wilhelm Leibl’s idea of pure painting is reflected in the suggestive power of the brushstrokes used to model the folds of the light-coloured dress and the grass, in which reflections of the pink garment are scattered. The painting stands at the threshold of Jama’s reorientation towards the problem of light and a divided palette. In Tomaž Brejc’s view, the painter’s preoccupation with the tonal unity of the painting contributes to a dilution of its plein air effect (Brejc, 1982).