82 Ivana Kobilca (1861-1926)

'Self Portrait in White' ca. 1910

Ivana Kobilca was one of the greatest painters from Slovenia, and is considered a part of the Realist movement, despite not all her work quite fitting the label (she also painted Christian devotional works and allegories). According to Beti Žerovc from the University of Ljubljana, her work is more accurately Naturalist, the main differences being a plein-air approach, brighter palette, and stronger light source. Ivana mostly painted portraits, working in both oils and pastels. She was an honorary member of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in France. In 1897, she and Ferdo Vesel became the first Slovenes to exhibit at the Venice Biannale.

'Slovenia Bows to Ljubljana', 1898-1903

Ivana Kobilca was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to a family of wealthy craftsmen. She learned to draw at the Urseline High School with the teacher Ida Künl. At eighteen, she moved to Vienna for a year, studying from the old masters at the Academy of Art. She then moved to Munich continuing her studies under the portrait painter, Alois Erdtelt until 1889. She spent a year painting in Zagreb before moving to Paris. She traveled extensively around Europe, living and painting in Berlin, Sarajevo, Florence Italy, and her home city of Ljubljana. At her death she was hailed as Slovenia's greatest artist. Beti Žerovc wrote that her painting of Ljubljana (shown above) has hung in the city's town hall for over a century. Ivana's face was also placed on Slovenia's currency, following independence from Yugoslavia (1993-2007):

In Beti Žerovc's essay, she explains (p. 517) the time Ivana lived in, when success was based on acceptance into prestigious art exhibitions, which must have led her to follow fashions of the time, following art critics in newspapers as well as fellow artists. Her greatest artistic move was to embrace a new palette of bright greens, blues, and yellows, shifting away from the 'brown gravy' palette she had studied in the 1880's.

'Summer', 1889-90

Ivana Kobilca's successful career came not just from the quality of her work, but her constant self-promotion, entering into exhibitions around Europe, both large group shows and solo exhibitions she organized herself - which were quite rare for artists from her area (Beti Žerovc, p. 524).

'Women Ironing', 1890

Ivana Kobilca's greatest talent was her ability to capture a wide range of facial expressions, capturing the character and mood of her subjects. You feel they could speak to you, and you already know what they might say.

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'Study for the painting Fortune Teller', 1893

'Children on the Grass', 1892

'Sketch for the Goose Shepherdess' after 1900

'Portrait of Mary & Josephine Baumgarten,' 1885-8

'Brezmadežna (Immaculate)'

'Madonna Souvan' 1900

'Self Portrait with Palette' 1894-5

'Dutch Girl', 1886

'Parisian Woman with a Letter', 1892-3


'Portrait of Sister Fani', 1889

'Deklica z avbo (Girl from the Abbey?)' 1881

'Girl in an Armchair', ca. 1891-2

'Man in Oriental Dress'

'Portrait of an Old Man', ca. 1882-9

'The Coffee Drinker', 1888

'Portrait of Marije Pintar' 1887

'Portrait of Marije Pintar', 1913

'Girl in a Vest', 1886

'Boy in a Sailor's Suit' 1891-2

'Portrait of a Girl' ca. 1882-9

'Chrysanthemums', ca. 1914-26

'A Muslim Bride, Being Wrapped in a Veil' 1901