Emanuel Vidovic was a Croatian painter and graphic artist. He painted iridescent landscapes composed of textures of crepuscular light and color of places like Venice, Split, and Milan which made their way into the world of art in Croatia and other European countries. A nineteenth-century artist, he experimented with different styles of the time, such as post-impressionist, art nouveau and expressionist to arrive at his own inimitable, modern style. He brought interiors of churches to his canvas and many of his early works are steeped in Slavic history. He was also a highly gifted graphic artist whose handcrafted satirical caricatures were published in books and publications in Croatia, depicting him as a man with a high degree of social awareness. He soared to eminence through his creative work and became the artistic pride of his native city of Split. He showcased his art in exhibitions in Croatia, Italy, Austria, London and Bulgaria.
Childhood & Early Life
Emanuel Vidovic was born on December 24, 1870 in Split, to Ivan Vidovic and Paskva.
He was educated in a local elementary school, and later the Imperial Royal High School, with drawing being a major part of his curriculum.
Eager to study art, he initially took up architecture at the well-known Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice in 1887, and then transferred to painting soon, but disillusioned with the institution and techniques he was taught, he quit formal instruction within three years. He moved on independently, still searching and delving into his own skills. During this period, he drew landscapes of Venice to support himself.
In 1892, he began to work at the Famiglia Artistica in Milan, which was founded as part of the Scapigliatura movement by artists, writers, poets and painters. Its bohemian character defined the nature of the movement. It was there that Emanuel Vidovic began to refine and deepen his beautiful landscapes.
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Exhibiting his first set of works in Milan in 1894, he was inspired by the scenic views of the lagoons and canals of a fishing village called Chioggia, where he spent some time, painting the scenes upon his canvas. These works bore the character of symbolism and were filled with light and luminescence.
He returned to Split and introduced himself to the social circles of local artists and painters such as Josip Lalic and Ante Katunaric. After traveling to Chioggia to workon a few more paintings, he began work at his own studio in Split in 1898, and took up teaching art at the local high school.
He exhibited his works, along with Josip Lalic's, at the first exhibition in 1901 of the Literary Art Club, a newly established platform of modern art in Split.
He got the opportunity to exhibit his work as a solo artist in 1903 in the cities of Zagreb and Split. The quality of his art took him to art shows in London, Milan, Sofia and Vienna.
Dipping his fingers into the world of satire through art, he began to draw caricatures for a satirical paper Duje Balavac in 1908. Continuing in the field of teaching, he became a drawing professor at the School of Crafts in Split, the following year.
He resumed solo exhibitions following the First World War, first in Split, then in 1923 in Prague. As his style evolved, he also created paintings in different shades of pastels, of landscapes and interiors of buildings. A series of Trogir landscapes emerged in later years, showing characteristics that were distinct from the symbolism of his Chioggia landscapes, earning acclaim from critics and art enthusiasts.
His paintings of interiors began to transform into three-dimensional art, adding great depth to his works in the period from 1938 to 1942. His contribution to Croatian art made him a highly respected figure and he was invited to renowned art festivals in Europe. It earned him the membership of the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences..
The subject of lagoons and canals was fascinating to Vidovic and he began his first paintings to create his vision in Giudecca, a picturesque island in northern Italy. In 1898, he used dusk lighting and bright colors to paint his Giudecca, a work incorporating the techniques of divisionism, or the use of dots and individual strokes representing Neo-impressionisism. His paintings of Chioggia were also works of the same period.
The towns of Trogir and Split in Croatia were the subjects in many of his stunning landscapes. His noteworthy collections were entitled "Little World", "In the Lagoon" and "Ships", created around 1900.
In his later years, he began painting more still life, using a darker palette for the background, filling with lighter and brighter shades to create his interiors. A lyrical quality ran through most of his work, such as the "Split Cathedral" from 1939.
Awards & Achievements
In 1908, he founded the Medulic Society, along with his friend, Ivan Mestrovic and a group of Dalmation artists, which articulated its political message through art, using elements of poetry and heroic legends of the south Slavic traditions in their creations.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Amalija Baffo, a resident of Chioggia, in 1898.
Emanuel Vidovic died on 1 June 1953 at Split, SFR Yugoslavia (today's Croatia).
Nearly a thousand of his paintings and drawings have been preserved in a Romanesque house in the heart of Split, Galerija Emanuel Vidovic.
Emanuel Vidovic expressed his political views, supporting separation of Croatia from Austria-Hungary through his satirical caricatures.