Page 344 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 344

Ljubica D. Popović
More familiar is the twentieth-century version of this subject, painted in 1919 by Uroš Predić (1857–1953).121 Ob- viously directly inspired by Quiquerez’s painting, Predić’s work shows some alterations in details, the result of a some- what greater theatricality of representation. The horizon is lower, while the Kosovo field is flatter and covered with the bodies of men and horses. The artist skillfully describes every detail in the neo-Romantic spirit and in realistic terms. From thistle and poppies to the clothes, arms and atmospheric rendering of the distance, everything is in- cluded, even the “two golden pitchers.”122 Unfortunately, one of the latter, by its placement near the center of this pyramidal composition, seems to detract from the pro- tagonists of the drama.
When viewed from a Western european perspective of artistic development, this romantic-realistic work is both stylistically and thematically anachronistic. Taken within its historical context, the painting is more understandable. Predić created his Kosovka Devojka in 1919, immediately following the conclusion of World War i, a war in which the Serbian people sustained heavy losses. Could this im- age be interpreted as an allegorical representation of these losses exalted through a Kosovo theme and inspired by epic poetry? This painting had tremendous popular ap- peal, and its reproductions could be found in the homes of many Serbian families between the two great wars.123
Sculptors also treated the subject of Kosovka Devoj- ka. For ivan Meštrović (1883–1962) the maiden was a part of a much larger iconographic project for his Vidovdan Temple. He created this low relief in 1908 in the clear sty- listic terms of Central european Secessionism.124 The he- roically-treated nude body of Orlović Pavle, “the brave,” as he is called in the epic poem, dominates the foreground. He is supported by the Maiden of Kosovo, who occupies the second plane and holds an elaborate vessel as her at- tribute. Their faces are rendered in profile, eyes apparently gazing toward the unknown. By its very nature, the me- dium (a relief ) cannot be as explicitly detailed as a paint- ing; nevertheless, Meštrović visually quotes another spe- cific verse from the poem Kosovka Devojka when he rep- resents Orlović Pavle;
His right arm was severed,
and his left leg up to the knee;...125
121 D. Medaković, Srpski slikari XVIII-XX veka, pp. 317–33; S. jo- kanović, “Tajna ’Kosovke Devojke’,” Ilustrovana Politika, No 1571 (13. Xii, 1988), 3, and figure on page 3.
122 V. Djurić, Antologija, p. 281, line 7.
123 For example, this author recalls seeing a small replica of this
painting hanging in the home of Mr. and Mrs. janko N. janković, a lawyer from Šabac in Serbia.
124 M. Ćurćin, et al., ivan Meštrović (London: Williams and Norgate, 1919), p. 62, pis. i and ii (Vidovdan Temple), and pi. XViii (The Maiden of Kosovo).
125 V. Djurić, Antologija, p. 281: Desna mu je ruka osečena, / i lijeva noga do kolena...
a Slovenian sculptor, L. Dolinar, also created a work inspired by this theme. He made this Maiden of Kosovo group in the very spontaneous medium of clay in 1925.126 Being a free-standing sculpture, it is the least descriptive of all the works mentioned in this study representing this subject. Dolinar conveys a feeling of tragedy through com- positional means. The seated young woman supports the prone figures of the dying hero. His head falls back while hers is gently inclined; their counter-poised faces express the pathos of the situation, reminding the beholder of the Pieta compositions.
in spite of differences in media, styles, and dates, all these works share a certain formal element: the basic com- position of a female supporting a male figure. Through the visual association with the Lamentation scene and a sen- timental subject selected from a well-known poem of the Kosovo Cycle, these and similar works were assured im- mediate recognition and wide popular appeal.
although this study does not include all of the images in Serbian art depicting Kosovo themes, it still allows cer- tain broad observations to be made. During the medieval period, including the time of the Battle of Kosovo, the vi- sual arts almost mirrored the nature of written sources. Both dealt selectively with the reality of the physical world, a lesser concern in both literature and images. just as there was no detailed written account of the Battle of Kosovo, there was also no visual rendition of it either.
in the post-medieval period of Serbian art, the social and political needs absolutely unique to the Serbian peo- ple dictated the emergence of the depiction of the Battle of Kosovo. During the Baroque period, historical compo- sitions were used for didactic purposes, like religious art. During the Romantic era, however, one finds a prolifera- tion of historical subjects in art. in Serbian painting these compositions depicting Kosovo themes were not inspired directly by history, but by a much more powerful source— the national epic poetry. in order to achieve their goal— illustrative and easily comprehended compositions—the artists used various and often traditional formal means.
a certain amount of historicity, if not history, is pres- ent either explicitly or implicitly in almost every work of art. a work might be a rendition of a prehistoric hunt as envisioned by the artist or an image so totally abstract that it is denied even a title.127 Yet, none of these representa- tions can belie their own periods. Within this broad con- cept of the historicity of images, there is a sub-category of historical compositions which, from the beginnings of recorded history, seem to have been used in a program- matic way. Their purpose, above all, was glorification, pri-
127 elizabeth Frank, Jackson Pollock (New York: abbeville Press, 1983), figs. 56, 57, 62–68, 70, 74, 79, 84, 85, 87, and 88.
Mihaljčić, “The Historical Role,” pp. 344–47, figure on page 139. among other representations of the Maiden of Kosovo is a drawing by Lazar Vozarević (1925–68): Mihaljčić, “The Historical Role,” figure on page 71.

   342   343   344   345   346