Emanuel Vidović: Pasatist and modernist

Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milano, Italia

Emanuel Vidović (Split, 1870-1953, Split) is one of the key painters of Croatian modernism: his work in art lies in the very foundations of Croatian modernism.  This is a painter who in terms of style started in plein-air, went on with Divisionism,  the Italian version of post-Impressionism and finally adopted French Impressionism, for Pointillism gave him greater chances of achieving effects of light in the painting than the application of  paint in dabs typical of Divisionism.

Vidović is an artist who had two artistic homelands, Croatia and Italy.  Born in Split, he nevertheless left his home at the age of 17 for Venice, where in autumn 1887 he enrolled in the sculpture course at the Accademia di Belle Art, soon, however, transferring to the painting department. The conservative approach to art instruction, as practised at that time in most art schools in Italy and indeed in Europe generally did not suit him and in 1890 he quit his course. But although he had dropped out, he continued living in Venice and painting the canals and lagoons, the atrium of St Mark’s becoming his first studio.

Looking for work, in 1892 and 1893 he moved to Milan. He changed jobs, learned painting, educated himself and kept up with events in culture and the arts.

In 1894 he took part in Milan for the first time in an exhibition.  He showed a picture from the life of Venetian fishermen at the Esposizioni Riunite in Milan alongside a work of the then (and still today) celebrated Italian painter Giovanni Segantini. In the same year for the first time he looked around Chioggia, picturesque fishing village that he was to visit frequently, and still more frequently to paint.

1895 saw him once again in Milan exhibiting two pictures at the Esposizione Permanente. 

In 1897 he was back again in Chioggia and Venice; in 1899 he married a Chioggia woman, Amalia Baffo.

In 1907, Emanuel Vidović returned for good to Split, taking his family with him. However, he kept up his links with and visits to Italy more or less until his death.

Because of these facts, which vividly confirm the painter’s deep connections with Italy, with the towns of Venice, Milan and Chioggia, the Art Pavilion in Zagreb has endeavoured to present this consummate artist and his works to the Italian public, art history discipline and media in Milan, city in which Vidović had his first show.

A big monographic exhibition of Emanuel Vidović was held in the Art Pavilion in Zagreb in 2018. It presented a chronological review of all phases of his oeuvre, with numbers of his masterpieces on loan from the most important Croatian museums and private collections.  A similar conception lies behind the exhibition in Milan, the first posthumous presentation of this artist in the city of his youth, in the city where, at the exhibition held in 1894, he took his first professional steps.

The exhibition in Milan is so conceived as to cover, through a retrospective (chronological) approach and the exhibition of some of his very best works, the whole of Vidović’s oeuvre – from the works of the earliest period, 1898 to 1921, right up until 1952, the very end of his life.

The exhibition includes some fifty oil paintings on canvas, from the earliest work of 1899 until the latest work painted in 1953.  Particularly standing out in the show, so emblematic of and important in Croatian modern art, are the works: Motif from Venice, 1899; Venice, An Impression, about 1900; Sunny Kiss, 1903; Angelus, 1906; From the Lagoon, Chioggia, about1906; Venice, about 1910; In the Lagoon, about 1909; Chioggia at Evening, 1914-1918; To the Dead City, 1919; Crack of Dawn in Split Port, about 1921; Fishermen in the port (Split Port), 1929

The author of the exhibition is one of the most distinguished of Croatian art historians, for whom the work of Emanuel Vidović happens to be of particular interest, Igor Zidić.

The catalogue that accompanies the exhibition contains not only the essay of Igor Zidić but also reproductions of the works that make up the exhibition; it is printed in Italian.