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the Roman Horatii84 or the Greek Dioskouroi (because of the horses)85 than Serbian medieval noblemen. The theme here is a confrontation without any further hint of what would follow. Stefanović dramatically suspends this meeting with destiny, leaving its visual resolution to oth- er images.
in view of the history of the Serbian people, it is not surprising to find occasional depictions of battles rather than Cupid-like angels on the vaults of their churches. Such is the case with the previously mentioned painting by Nikola aleksić (1808–73) dating ca. 1871.86 Depicted on the vaulted ceiling of the Serbian church in Ostojićevo, it represents one of the two most dramatic moments of the Battle of Kosovo, Ubistvo Murata (The Killing of Mu- rad). in the center of the composition sits the elaborate, already empty, throne. The body of the dead sultan oc- cupies the foreground and creates the illusion that it will fall over the painted cornice and tumble down into the actual space of the church. Groups of Turks flank both sides of the throne. The figure of Miloš forms the apex of this pyramidal composition. With one foot defiantly placed on the dead sultan’s body, he brandishes his saber and dagger to combat an attacking janissary. Upward-gazing angels would have seemed superfluous to the battle-tem- pered warriors of the Vojna Krajina (the Military Fron- tier of the Habsburg empire). instead, Serbs may have found the forceful yet rhythmic movements of warriors with sabers a more appropriate subject for their churches, since such battle scenes represented a part of their history.
Other Serbian artists explored the theme of Miloš kill- ing Murad. anastas jovanović depicts the moment when Miloš plunges a dagger into the abdomen of the enthroned sultan while two Ottoman viziers view the scene with hor- ror.87 Folds of tent drapery frame this scene in which Mi- loš is given visual prominence, his outstretched body placed in a long diagonal close to the foreground of the picture.
in his 1904 Kosovski Spomenik (Monument to the He- roes of Kosovo) in Kruševac, sculptor Djoka jovanović (1861–1953) represents in bronze relief, among a number of episodes, the moment when Miloš draws his dagger, ready to kill the astonished sultan seated amidst his court- iers.88 Since primary sources do not give a specific ac-
84 Fritz Novotny, Painting and Sculpture in Europe 1780–1880, The Pelican History of art (Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1960), fig. i-B; jacques-Louis David: The Oath of the Horatii, 1784, Paris, Louvre.
85 Pierre Grimal, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, translat- ed by a. R. Maxwell-Hyslop (Oxford, england: Basil Blackwell Pub- lisher Limited, 1985): s.v. “Dioscuri,” pp. 140–41.
86 Dejan Medaković, Putevi srpskog baroka: Nacionalna istorija Srba u svetlosti crkvene istorije našega doba (Belgrade, 1972), pp. 82–84 M. jovanović, Srpsko slikarstvo u doba romantizma, p. 248.
87 Kosovska Bitka: mit, legenda i stvarnost, fig. 37.
88 Miodrag Protić, et al., Jugoslovenska umetnost XX veka: skulp-
tura 1870–1950 (Belgrade Muzej Savremene umetnosti, 1975): Djordje jovanović, nos. 59–60; Kosovska Bitka: mit, legenda i stvarnost, fig. 51.
The Battle of Kosovo (1389) and Battle Themes in Serbian art
count of Miloš’s assassination of Sultan Murad i, the se- quence of events which took place in the sultan’s entou- rage is left open to artistic imagination, as documented by the examples discussed above.
The second dramatic moment of the battle, according to the chronicles, occurred when Prince Lazar’s horse is killed.89 adam Stefanović treats the subject in his color lithograph, Саru Lazaru konja ubiše (The Killing of Prince Lazar’s Horse), created in 1870–71.90 The fierce clash of the two equestrian armies fills the entire pictorial space, from the foreground where men lie dead and wounded, to the distant horizon marked by gently sloping hills. The attack of the Serbian cavalry is led by the rider on a white charger as if to disguise through this powerful symbolic element (the man on a white horse) the dangerous mo- ment when the horse falls beneath the Serbian leader. The dark color of the fallen horse, also symbolic, foretells the tragedy yet to come. a warrior gently lifts Prince Lazar from his fallen charger, compositionally emulating the De- scent from the Cross.91 This pair is visually inconspicu- ous, as if to remain hidden from a casual observer.
There is perhaps only a slight difference in definition between a hero and a martyr. The first fights for his be- liefs while the second more submissively accepts God’s will. Prince Lazar belongs to both of these categories since he fought as a hero on the field of Kosovo but also accepted a martyr’s death there. Quite interesting iconographically is the image painted by Djordje Krstić (1851–1907), in Smrt cara Lazara (Death of Tsar Lazar). executed in 1885 as a painting destined for an iconostasis, it was rejected amidst controversy.92 The artist does not portray the actual de- capitation, the field of Kosovo and its many dead, the sounds and fury of the raging battle, or the sultan’s tent and the figure of Bajezid, Murad’s successor. instead, he depicts a solitary moment when heavenly rays illuminate the slain leader while a winged figure floats above the ground and gently supports Lazar’s body. The angel leans forward as if to kiss Lazar’s forehead and accept his de- parting soul. This scene also evokes strong religious feel- ings because of its compositional association with the de- piction of the Lamentation.93
Certain descriptive narratives found in epic poetry were easily translated into an equally illustrative pictorial
90 M. jovanović, Srpsko slikarstvo i grafika, p. 60, No 69; about the episode of Prince Lazar and his fallen horse: Tomac, Kosovska Bitka, p. 205.
91 G. Millet, Researches sur l’iconographie, pp. 467–88, figs. 492– 521. G. Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, v. 2, 1972, pp. 164–68, figs. 543–64.
92 Miodrag Kolarić, Djordje Krstić (Belgrade: jugoslavija, n.d.), p. 16, and figure on page 47; Dejan Medaković, Srpski slikari XVIII-XX veka: likovi i dela (Novi Sad: Matica srpska, 1968), p. 245.
93 Millet, Recherches sur l’iconographie, pp. 489–516, figs. 522–62; G. Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, pp. 174–79, figs. 575–621.
  M. Bašić, Iz stare srpske književnosti, 1911: “Boj na Kosovu” iz Letopisa josifa Tronošca (183–187), p. 186.

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