Slava Raškaj

Croatia / 1877 - 1906 / wikipedia
Slava Raškaj (pronounced Slava Rashkay) (2 Jan. 1877 – 29 March 1906); Croatian painter, considered to be the greatest Croatian watercolorist of the late 19th and early 20th century. Deaf since birth, Raškaj was schooled in Vienna and Zagreb, where her mentor was the renowned Croatian painter Bela Čikoš Sesija. In the 1890s her works were exhibited around Europe, including at the 1900 Expo in Paris. In her twenties Raškaj was diagnosed with acute depression and was institutionalized for the last 3 years of her life before dying in 1906 from tuberculosis in Zagreb. The value of her work was largely overlooked by art historians in the following decades, but in the late 1990s and early 2000s interest in her work was revived.

Born as Friderika Slavomira Olga Raškaj into a middle class family (her mother Olga ran the local post office which was at the time a prestigious administrative position) in the town of Ozalj in present-day Croatia (at the time in the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, a subdivision within Austria-Hungary). Olga liked painting in her free time and she passed her love for arts very early on to both her daughters Slava and Paula (Paula later worked as a schoolteacher in Orahovica and also continued to paint casually in adulthood).

When she was 8, Raškaj was sent to Vienna to enroll at a school for deaf people where she first learned to draw. Her drawings from that period mainly depict casts of classical sculptures drawn in pencil or ink (two of these drawings survived and are kept on display at the Croatian School Museum at Republic of Croatia Square in Zagreb). During her time in Vienna she also learned German and French and in later years moved on to watercolor and gouache techniques before returning to Ozalj in 1893.

...A Croatian film about her controversial relationship with Sesija titled 100 Minutes of Glory directed by Dalibor Matanić was released in 2004, and a grand retrospective exhibition...
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First Collected by

Suzan Hamer


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