The latest NSK virtual exhibition featuring works by Hugo Conrad von Hötzendorf preserved at the NSK Print Collection
As a follow-up to Drawings by Hugo Conrad von Hötzendorf in the Print Collection of the National and University Library in Zagreb, a special exhibition that the National and University Library in Zagreb organised and hosted in October 2017, the Library has put on a homonymous virtual exhibition, to make the works of this remarkable 19th-century Croatian painter of German descent permanently available to as wide an audience as possible.
Among many other reasons, the 2017 exhibition was put on for the purpose of presenting Hötzendorf’s works preserved as part of the Library’s Print Collection which, apart from being examples of an outstanding artistic style and expression, provide rare reliable and interesting details about scarcely documented Hötzendorf’s life. Then, since 1807 is one of three possible years of birth according to the available resources and literature, the exhibition was a way to mark over 200 years since Hötzendorf’s birth. Also, the exhibited works were the first acquisition of the Library’s Print Collection, which makes them particularly significant in the history of the Collection’s development. Namely, in 1920, doctor Artur Schneider, who first headed the Collection, purchased them from Isidor Kršnjavi, the notable Croatian painter, art historian, curator and politician, who got his first painting lessons precisely from Hötzendorf.
Works featured by the virtual exhibition, pencil drawings and watercolours, date from a period following von Hötzendorf’s return from his studies in Vienna in 1840. Apart from portraying human and animal figures, they mostly represent the landscapes of the Croatian region Slavonia, but also other Croatian regions and regions of Slovenia and Austria that von Hötzendorf travelled through. Creating a serene, but melancholic atmosphere, von Hötzendorf leads us through meadows encircled by mountains and hills, with the remains and ruins of old forts and castles scattered down their slopes. He takes us through the forests of Slavonia, by the old cottages leaning against crumbling trees and wooden fences stretching between pastures, revealing the beauty of the sources of mighty rivers or far-away roads winding into the distance. On the other hand, Hötzendorf’s studies of human and animal figures, along with that of plants and trees, show his exquisite skill in detailed presentations of their anatomies.
The Drawings by Hugo Conrad von Hötzendorf virtual exhibition is wider in its scope than its physical counterpart, enabling the interpretation and evaluation of Hötzendorf’s art by placing it into a broader perspective. The first step in its creation was the collection of resources providing material for the textual part of the exhibition and the digitisation of the Library’s holdings and material from databases such as Hrčak, the central Croatian online portal of scientific journals, and DiZbi HAZU, the Digital Collection of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, which were to be integrated into the exhibition. After designing the exhibition’s thematic conceptual map and the integration of the Library’s digital resources with those from other institutions and databases, the exhibition team proceeded with the development of its virtual architecture that would make the exhibition attractive to all types of users and at the same time enable them to experience it through an “itinerary” of their own choice.