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Looking at this group of literati, one can agree with the author’s self-depiction which began: ‘I, Hinko Smrekar, by God’s mercy eccentric-clown of the Slovene nation … I had to become a satirist, like any idealist gifted with strong feelings and a powerful intellect’. Elegance and sophisticated humour shine from the agitated figures, to whom he witty assigned suitable attributes. On the extreme left stands the writer Franc Ksaver Meško. Behind him is Janez Trdina, already deceased and therefore shown with angels’ wings. Beside him stands the priest, writer and accomplished agriculturalist, Fran Saleški Finžgar, while the most prominent Slovene author, Ivan Cankar, leaps about angrily in front. Ivan Tavčar, with the large stomach, turns his back on him. At the time of this caricature he was mayor of Ljubljana and one of the richest men in Carniola. Vladimir Levstik stands shyly to the left behind Tavčar and, to the right, the literary historian, editor and pedagogue Fran Levec. Etbin Kristan, an excellent speaker who had just returned from a lecturing tour across America, fixes an angry glance and points a finger at Tavčar. In the foreground stands the recently deceased Anton Aškerc, with angels’ wings and in a preacher’s robe. Shortly before Smrekar made this caricature he had incurred the displeasure of the priesthood with publication of his poetic works Primož Trubar and Martyrs, in which he praised the Slovene Reformationists. Behind Levec, Smrekar placed Zofka Kvedrova holding a flaming heart, with Fran Govekar behind her. On the extreme right, entangled in conversation are the long-fingered poet and short-story writer Milan Pugelj, the poet Oton Župančič and Cvetko Golar, with a large bottle of wine in his hand. All the men and women of letters depicted shared an attraction to themes of national awakening, to which they were all committed to a greater or lesser extent. However, could this drawing be in fact interpreted in the spirit of Smrekar’s friend, Ivan Cankar, who declared: ‘I have lashed out at all so-called Slovene progressiveness, liberality, patriotic fervour and deep love of >the simple nation<’?

Details

  • Title: Slovene men and women of letters
  • Creator: Hinko Smrekar
  • Date: 1913
  • Date Created: 1913
  • Location Created: Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Physical Dimensions: 390 x 562 mm
  • Provenance: Gift
  • Type: Watercolour drawing
  • Rights: Narodni muzej Slovenije
  • Medium: Paper sheet

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