Möuni - Painter Paja Jovanović's Artistic Inspiration

  • Location: Museum of Paja Jovanović, 21 Kralja Milana/4th floor
  • Date: June 16 - October 7, 2018
  • Impressum:

    Isidora Savić, exhibition author; Milutin Marković, design 

The extensive art work of the renowned painter Pavle Paja Jovanović (1859–1957), abounded in historical, oriental, mythological, religious and portrait compositions, includes a significant part of the images of the artist's wife, Hermine (Dauber) Jovanović - Möuni (1892–1972).

Möuni has been a subject of around 30 of Jovanović’s exhibited canvases, pastels, and drawings, which are kept in Belgrade City Museum’s Paja Jovanović Legacy. Jovanović has woven his wife’s beauty into the artistic milieu, by transforming his model into a specific object d’art, worth of admiration. The representation of Möuni, as the embodiment of beauty, kept on reappearing in different thematic frameworks, from her portraits as the high-society lady, to the allegorical and mythical compositions, as well as, acts.

Paja Jovanović had sprung from the wells of the European art in the latter part of the 19th century, and became a renowned artist of world reputation, who nurtured the spirit of idealistic realism, based on his knowledge gained during his studies at the prestigious Art Academy in Vienna. In accordance with Kant's notion of natural and artistic beauty, Jovanović had strived for a highly aestheticized and embellished presentation of reality. The beauty, which had been the main theme of Jovanović's portraits, reached its climax in the visualization of the artist's favorite model, his wife Möuni.

Hermine (Dauber) Jovanović, was born in Budapest in 1892, and she met the elderly painter in 1905, while she modeled for him. Although she had been the most intimate person in the artist's life, she left scant information about herself. It is known that she married her thirty years older husband in Vienna, in 1917. In a harmonious marriage that lasted for four decades, until Jovanović’s death in 1957, a special psycho esthetic relationship developed between the artist and his wife that can only be interpreted as the Pygmalion effect. Ovid's story of Pygmalion, an artist who fell in love with his work, is analogous to Paja's apologia for Möuni, as her stunning beauty had become the artist's model, muse, and inspiration.