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  Deaf History, Europe

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Slava Raškaj's bust in Zagreb

1877 - 1906: Slava Raškaj, Painter (Croatia)

Slava Raškaj (2 January 1877 – 29 March 1906) was a Croatian painter, considered to be the greatest Croatian watercolorist of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Slava was born in the family of the local administrator Vjekoslav Raskaj and his wife Olga, and her name Slava means Glory in Croatian. Until the age of seven she lived with her family.

Being deaf ever since her birth, due to the difficulties in communication, she gradually withdrew from people, but not before her talent was noticed.

Until the age of fifteen (1885 - 1893) she lived in an institution for deaf children in Vienna, Austria. Under the influence of an art instructor she kept developing in the area of painting and drawing.

Back home, in 1895, persuaded by the local teacher in Ozalj Ivana Otoic-Muha, she left for Zagreb to attend the art school. In 1896 her instructor was painter Bela Cikos-Sesija.

Slava's repertoire was peculiar - dark shades of still life, watercolor paintings containing strange objects as the starfish, silver jewelry chest, and even more interesting, the pairs of objects as a red rose and an owl, or a lobster and a fan.

Mrs. Otoic helped her to open her own atelier. It was the small, white painted room, once the mortuary. Her first aquarel was done there and most probably today's famous self-portrait from the year 1898. Next year, the actress spent at home in Ozalj, wandering in the nature, drawing the landscapes, perfecting her favoured medium technique, enriching them with her already unique and distinguished style and sensitivity.

Her works have been exhibited since 1898 in art pavilions of Zagreb, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. It was the best part of her short career when most valuable works were done, especially those painteid in this very Garden, by the ponds. A series of paintings of water lilies (‘Lopoci’) are considered as a sort of a hallmark of this great artist.

In her twenties Raškaj was diagnosed with acute depression and was institutionalised for the last three years of her life before dying in 1906 from tuberculosis in Zagreb.

waterlilies

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