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Permanent Collection

From 1918 onwards

Renato Birolli

(Verona, 1907 – Milan, 1959)

Portrait of the Poet Salvatore Quasimodo
1942, oil, canvas, 160 x 60 cm
signed and dated centre right side: Birolli 42

NG S 1992, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
Salvatore Quasimodo was born in Modica in Sicily in 1901 and died in Naples in 1968. In 1959 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

This portrait was painted in April 1942. It is signed and dated Birolli 42 at the right edge; it is one of the painter’s best works and reveals the Post-Impressionist and Expressionist sources of his style. Birolli first portrayed the poet in November 1941. Both paintings are mentioned in his diary.

Provenance: Presented to the Narodna galerija in 1942 by the Italian occupation authority of the province; confirmation of the inventorisation of the painting dated 16 April 1943, old Inv. No. 1880; 1952–1983 on loan to the Moderna galerija, Ljubljana.
Exhibitions: 1942, Venice, No. 22; 1960, Venice, No. 12; 1983, Ljubljana, No. 102; 1985, Belgrade, No. 57; 1987, Belgrade-Zagreb-Ljubljana-Sarajevo, no number; 1989, Milan, No. 42, 1989/90, Rome, 1990, Verona.
Lit.: Stampa sera 1942 (with Fig.); Peyrot 1942; Apollonio 1942; Francini 1942; Gafajs 1942; Pozza 1942; Torriano 1942; Zanzi 1942; Gorgerino 1942; Maltese 1950, p. 46; Apollonio 1956, p. 154; Birolli 1960, pp. 104, 136, 138, 168 (introduction A. Moravia); Zeri [& Rozman] 1983, p. 84, Cat. and Fig. No. 102; Erbesato 1986, pp. 60, 62; World Masters 1987, p. 88, Fig. on p. 89 (text Jure Mikuž); Birolli 1989, pp. 31, 147, Fig. on p. 42.

The Third Renaissance in Slovenia

The twentieth century was the third period in history that elevated Ljubljana to an active art centre on the Slovenian ethnic territory. This era is marked by artistic trends that originated in the world art centres, while only rarely symptoms of local tradition and continuity can be traced. Although the Expressionists are usually ranked as belonging to the historical avant-garde, it is necessary to distinguish within their group between continuity and radicalism. The long shadow of Art Nouveau – particularly in the expressionist oeuvres of the brothers Kralj, France and Tone, and some other representatives of this generation who studied in Prague – extends via the expressive pre-WW1 paintings by Fran Tratnik all the way from its hard core with Gustav Klimt and the Wiener Werkstätte of the turn of the century. The artists’ updated formal methods frequently carry on the patterns of allegorical interpretation. Not even Stane Kregar is completely free from it in his Surrealist manner which he adopted in Prague. The dominant line is paralleled by a more promising colour intimism of the older generation with the relationship between the Flowers, Fruit and Jug by Alexey Jawlensky and The Sava by Jakopič. 

Colour realism of the 1930s prevailed in the generation or two that came from the Zagreb academy (France Mihelič, Maksim Sedej, early Zoran Mušič, and Gabriel Stupica), and their counterpart Gojmir Anton Kos is an outstanding representative of pure painting which likewise drew on the orthodox premises of Courbet’s and Manet’s realism. Among the sculptors, Frančišek Smerdu belongs to this generation. These representatives, who with authority and teaching zeal settled in the core of the newly established Ljubljana academy, helped to spread modernist trends in the second half of the century, which were all to the end of the 1970s still influenced by the authority of Paris as the principal art centre. Younger artists, such as Marij Pregelj among painters and Jakob Savinšek, Drago Tršar and Stojan Batič among sculptors, belong to this eminent company. Representatives of Italian painting of the 1930s, such as Gino Severini, Giorgio Morandi and Filippo de Pisis, demonstrate that Slovenian art in this century surpassed the limits of regional ambitions as well as achievements.
OwnerBirth - death
Stojan Batič (Trbovlje, 1925 − Ljubljana, 2015)
Mirsad Begić (*Glamoč, 1953)
Renato Birolli (Verona, 1907 – Milan, 1959)
Massimo Campigli (Berlin, 1895 – Saint-Tropez, 1971)
Filippo De Pisis (Ferrara, 1896 – Milan, 1956)
Lojze Dolinar (Ljubljana, 1893 − Ičići, Opatija, 1970)
France Gorše (Zamostec, Sodražica, 1897 − Golnik, 1986)
Zdenko Kalin (Solkan, Gorizia, 1911 − Ljubljana, 1990)
Fran Klemenčič (Ljubljana, 1880−1961)
Gojmir Anton Kos (Gorizia, 1896 − Ljubljana, 1970)
Tone Kralj (Zagorica, Dobrepolje, 1900 − Ljubljana, 1975)
France Kralj (Zagorica, Dobrepolje, 1895 – Ljubljana, 1960)
Stane Kregar (Zapuže, 1905 − Ljubljana, 1973)
Peter Loboda (Domžale, 1894 − Ljubljana, 1952)
Filip Andreievich Maliavine (Orenburg, 1869 – Nice, 1940)
France Mihelič (Virmaše, Škofja Loka, 1907 − Ljubljana, 1998)
Giorgio Morandi (Bologna, 1890–1964)
Zoran Mušič (Bukovica near Gorizia, 1909 – Venice, 2005)
Ivan Napotnik (Zavodnje, Šoštanj, 1888 − Šoštanj, 1960)
Cipriano Efisio Oppo (Rome, 1891–1962)
Veno Pilon (Ajdovščina, 1896−1970)
Jože Plečnik (Ljubljana, 1872−1957)
Marij Pregelj (Kranj, 1913 − Ljubljana, 1967)
Alojzij Repič (Vrhpolje, 1866 – Ljubljana, 1941)
Janko Samsa (Žirje, Sežana)
Jakob Savinšek (Kamnik, 1922 − Kirchheim, 1961)
Maksim Sedej (Dobračeva, Žiri, 1909 − Ljubljana, 1974)
Gino Severini (Cortona, 1883 – Paris, 1966)
Frančišek Smerdu (Postojna, 1908 − Ljubljana, 1964)
Matej Sternen (Verd, 1870 – Ljubljana, 1949)
Gabrijel Stupica (Dražgoše, 1913 – Ljubljana, 1990)
Saša Šantel (Gorizia, 1883 − Ljubljana, 1945)
Fran Tratnik (Potok, Nazarje, 1881 − Ljubljana, 1957)
Drago Tršar (*Planina, Rakek, 1927)
Ivan Vavpotič (Kamnik, 1877 – Ljubljana, 1943)
Alexej von Jawlensky (Torzhok, 1864 – Wiesbaden, 1941)