Vlaho Bukovac (Croatian 1855-1922)
Bukovac was born Biagio Faggioni in the town of Cavtat south of Dubrovnik in Dalmatia. As a son born to a family of mixed Croatian and Italian ancestry, his father was an Italian Croat from Genoa, while his mother was of explicitly Croatian descent.
Bukovac received his artistic education in Paris where he was sent by the patron (Knez) Medo Pucic. His small studies and sketches delighted his professor, the well-known Alexandre Cabanel, and Bukovac became a student at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts. He painted in the spirit of embellished, "sweetened" realism and achieved great success at the Salons, at that time the place of the greatest review of works related to the arts. By following the artistic fashion of the public, he imbued it predominantly with his themes. Temporary destinations during his sojourn in France were England and the warm coast of Dalmatia where he was born. Otherwise, he was open to the world, including voyages to the Black Sea, as well as South (Chile and Peru) and North America.
Besides being an artist who followed the established canons dictated by the Salon and the general public, Bukovac also followed his own inner impulses of artistic creation. Liberated artistic expression, which was called Impressionism, developed in the spirit of the artists who kept gathering in modernism-oriented marginal galleries in Paris in the 1870s. He knew the spirit of Academism and, on the other hand, he felt the spirit of Impressionistic freedom. Having accepted modern principles, Bukovac painted casual pictures, using liberated strokes of the brush, in the Pointillist technique.
Bukovac became a significant representative of fine arts in Zagreb, Croatia from 1893 to 1897, bringing with him the spirit of French art. These new directives are most evident in his landscapes. He then began using a palette of lively and lighter colors using liberated strokes, soft rendering and the introduction of light on the painting canvas. With the time spent in Zagreb, he became the leader of all important cultural and artistic events. He founded the Zagreb multi-coloured school, helped initiate the construction of the Art Pavilion, and organized the first artistic exhibition in the Academy Palace in 1893. Due to conflict with Izidor Kršnjavi and his great sensitivity, he withdrew to his native Cavtat where he stayed from 1898 to 1902. Upon his return to Prague he was appointed associate professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in 1903.
His departure from Prague resulted in a complete change of personality for Bukovac. He felt satisfaction and enthusiasm in Zagreb that he had not felt in a while, and began to dedicate all of his energy to his new students, one of which was noted Croatian painter Mirko Racki. It was in this time he introduced Pointillism to the Prague Academy, and earned his historical reputation as an excellent pedagogue. His most famous painting, Croatian National Revival, is the curtain in the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.
Vlaho Bukovac died in Prague.