Octavian Smigelschi

Austria / Hungary / 1866 - 1912 / wikipedia / leviathan.ro / pictura-restaurare.ro
Octavian or Octav Smigelschi (last name also Smigelski, Smighelschi, Szmigelszki, or Szmigelschi;

Octavian or Octav Smigelschi (Szmigelszki Oktáv; March 21, 1866 – Nov. 10, 1912); Austro-Hungarian painter and printmaker, one of the leading culturally Romanian artists in his native Transylvania. Of mixed Polish, Aromanian, and possibly Ruthenian, background, he identified mainly with the Romanian-speaking Greek-Catholics, although some of his most important work was also done for the rival Romanian Orthodox Church. He graduated from the Drawing School and Art Teachers' College in Budapest, working on and off at high schools in Upper Hungary and Transylvania. His European journeys with Arthur Coulin took him to Cervara di Roma, where he studied Renaissance art, while moving away from academic art and into Symbolism and Art Nouveau.

Modernizing themes from Romanian folklore and Byzantine art, from 1903 Smigelschi focused his effort mainly on Christian art and modelli, including initial work for decorating Blaj Cathedral. He was among those commissioned to paint Sibiu Orthodox Cathedral, which required him to study religious art in the neighboring Kingdom of Romania. His "new vision" combined elements of Symbolism into the Orthodox tradition—a synthesis also found in his murals for smaller churches throughout Transylvania, and in his work on icons. His contribution was relatively ignored in Romania, but well-liked in Transylvania and Transleithania at large, earning Smigelschi the Vilmos Fraknói prize in 1907. He died of heart disease while he was preparing to focus his work on Hungarian churches.

...Iorga, in his obituary piece, claimed that both Catholics and Orthodox Transylvanians felt "undying sorrow, [sensing] that a century may pass and another painter like him [...] may still not be born." The deceased, he argued, had instilled a "new vision of the world".

...two daughters are noted artists: ceramist Ioana Șetran and printmaker Ana-Maria Smigelschi.
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Suzan Hamer


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