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Joško Belamarić ; Državna uprava za zaštitu kulturne i prirodne baštine, Glavno povjerenstvo u Splitu

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 9.717 Kb

str. 121-137

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str. 138-140

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He signed himself in brush strokes only twice as: Nicolaus Rhagusinus, Nicolo Raguseo- Nikola of Dubrovnik - once in a marble medallion under the arm of Gabriel in the middle of the Annunciation, which he painted in 1513 forthe Đorđić family, the second time at the foot of the Virgin's throne on the main altar retable in the Church of Our Lady of Dance, his last work (1517). This name, until the archival discovery of his Croatian family name, fired the imagination of those researching Dubrovnik Renaissance art and even became a kind of myth. To call himself Rhagusinus in the middle of Dubrovnik undoubtedly meant a self-confident declaration vis a vis his artistic contemporaries- especially Mihajlo Hamzić and Vicko, the son of Lovro Dobričević,and even perhaps in relation to his own father whose workshop he had just left. When we stand today in front of polyptychs of this kind (which, when preserved in full, amaze us by the perfect balance of their general composition) we rarely think that they were created as bricolage. Immediately after Nikola's return from Italy he, and his father Božidar Vlatković received several very large orders. In 1495 they were given a contract for the retable of the main altar of the Franciscan church in Cavtat. The church authorities required that the central composition and figures on the left side should be composed according to the pattern of a polyptych executed almost half a century earlier by Matko Junčić in the church of the Minorite Friars in Dubrovnik, while figures on the right side were to be done according to the pattern of another altar in the same church. The saints in the upper part of the polyptych, shown down to the waist, were to be done after Junčić also, and only the central Pieta according to an earlier painting by Božidarević. The same is true of their style. Experts have very easily "reduced" Božidarević's work into the style and themes found in the Crivelli brothers and Vittore Carpaccio. But Božidarević obviously also knew the fresco paintings of Perugino and Pinturichio in the Vatican palace (Appartamento Borgia)and elsewhere in Rome where his brush may, according to Vladimir Marković, have indeed been involved. The form of a polyptych (like the form of a sonnet) helps in the construction of a figural composition, in a rationally and symmetrically balanced composition. It equalizes lighting, concentrates sight and attention: even when its constructional elements are removed, which make the composition of a polyptych, it continues to make an invisible effect for a long time. By 1500 the form of the polyptych which the "Dubrovnik School of Painting" retained until the end had become a Procrustean bed. It did not allow figures to be shown in a natural context, to be enlivened by being shown with real appurtenances, nor for any relaxation of stiff postures, or any easier breathing. Thus in Božidarević's paintings the representation of real life and the movement of the real world is only found in miniatures, on the borders of polypthychs, in "footnotes" on individual articles or when we study details "microscopically". In fact it is drapery which is the most convincing and arresting and almost tactile element of Božidarević's painting. Just as we perceive the bustle of the harbour on the model of Dubrovnik held by St Blasius so too he was fully aware of the richness of the materials which were produced at this time in Dubrovnik. Cloth was as important as salt for the trade of Dubrovnik and was a very tangible asset in the consciousness of the city. It may be paradoxical but it is accurate to say that Božidarević did not paint portraits (using patterns of characters) but portrayed materials in which his saints were clothed. It is of significance in this context that the most outstanding assistant in his workshop for which in 1507 he rented a whole floor in one of the mansions on Placa, suitable because of its good light - was Marin Kriješić who is recorded in one of the archives as "pictor sive coltrarius", painter of pictures, curtains, covers and cloth. When we consider Božidarević's landscapes we also notice a paradox. The endless journeys of the Dubrovnikians, constantly involving the sea, did not give rise to the desire to extend the picture to include real landscape even in those ordered by ship's captains, merchants, or globe-trotters. But it would have been unrealistic to expect Nikola Božidarević to show the Annunciation in Kolendić's Lopud landscape. Instead he presents the stereotyped picture of the humanists' idea of Arcadia but omitting Bellini's ploughmen and donkeys. This is no bucolic Virgilian landscape as created in the circle surrounding Giorgione - no mundane Utopia in which we might like to live. Behind Gabriel the landscape is wild and rough, behind Our Lady it is cultivated, these are more symbolic, antithetical rather than any true mise-en scene. When we first come to Božidarević's paintings we may be surprised by the fact that in spite of the very real situation within which they developed, there is a lack of any penetrating observation of either inner or outer worlds. Where details appear they largely represent a sanctified aspect of reality: spiritualiasub metaphoris corporalium, as Thomas Aquinus would say. The political, diplomatic, commercial realism of the people of Dubrovnik was, surprisingly enough, very late reflected in an art which served symbolic ends. Considered from this angle the architectural presentation of the city has something in common with butterflies which have great black eyes on their wings in order to make an impression on their surroundings and themselves. Thus in Božidarević and his predecessors we shall find no dark allegory, as measured by today's art critics, but a clear and balanced representation of the Bible message. These polyptychs provide a view of many kinds of fear (of heaven, of the sea, of plague, of Turks of all kinds, of oneself), and also of much hope. The four paintings by Božidarević which have come down to us are typologically different. This only shows us how impoverished we are not to have his entire opus. All four of Božidarević' surviving paintings were private votive offerings. Their subject must therefore be read according to the wishes of the person who ordered them. It is often considered, taking into account their formal superioriy that the Sacra conversazione of the Đođic painting and the Annunciation done for Captain Marko Kolendić are the "measure" of Božidarević's painting. If the former is his first example of a particularly popular Renaissance composition in Croatian art history, the second is his first independent central altar painting. Private orders in Dubrovnik of the time continued to demand the traditional religious, especially votive themes. But in the wider sphere new, more secular, opportunities presented themselves. A study by Vladimir Marković shows this programme to have arisen out of a combination between political intentions and the moral principles of the patrician oligarchy which coincided and were identified with the Renaissance view of Christian and especially with the classical Roman exempla. Božidarević was the contemporary of poets Džore Držić and ŠiškoMenčetić, of Mavro Vetranović. Marin Držić, the most successful writer of Dubrovnik's "Golden Age" was born when Nikola was in prison for the ribald songs. But we cannot but feel that the painter's temper remains hidden behind the porcelain surface and perfect outer symmetry of his compositions. The Dubrovnik context did not provide opportunities for the expression of strong passions. The demands for caution and order were unremitting. There might be considerable personal pride but there must never be bragging. It was not a setting for great philosophy or poetry, nor for tragedy, but for the natural sciences, economics and- along with them- comedies. Unfortunately Dubrovnik painting was fated to disappear almost unnoticed, with no fanfares or real apogee, to be drowned in the import of baroque art from the other side of the Adriatic. When we talk about Dubrovnik, the Renaissance is our first association, but the Renaissance in Croatian painting never managed fully to develop. Indeed Gothic was never fully relinquished but, rather, gradually disintegrated. Its place was taken by the counter Reformation, together with a whole packet of ready-made solutions, before the Renaissance had managed to achieve full definition. We cannot experience Nikola's paintings as Renaissance building blocks cut out from the reality of their own day. We may rather consider them as tables bearing rich fabric. His saints, enveloped in brocade, standing before an azure sky, are sunk in timeless melancholy. They are depicted in an indeterminate context as they appeared to the eye of the painter - without any later addition of colour. They did not attain the position of an academic standard for the Dubrovnik painting of the period that followed. Božidarević went ad patraim paradisi the same time as Mihajlo Hamzić, son of the German immigrant Hans, a "bombardiere" from Cologne, and Vicko Lovrin, son of Dobričević. The sudden and complete change of generations coincided with a fundamental change in the taste of the rich commercial class when it began to turn to the artists of the Bellini and Titian circle. The colours of Božidarević's painting are the most harmonious chords of Dubrovnik's "Golden Age". Of the one hundred and fifty polyptychs registered at the time of Sormano's apostolic visitation in 1573 less than one tenth remain. The Dubrovnik archives record seventeen works by Božidarević but only four have come down to us. In old cities such as Dubrovnik - colour, like everything else except stone, is recessive. What we have today is an idealized impression of what was once reality.

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