Arts
 
ANTANAS ZMUIDZINAVICIUS
 
Prepared by “Encyclopedia Lituanica”. II. Boston, 1972. P. 343-345
 
ZMUIDZINAVICIUS, Antanas (1876-1966), painter, born in Seirijai southern Lithuania, on Oct. 31, 1876. He graduated from the Teachers' Seminary of Veiveriai in 1894 and for four years worked as elementary school teacher. Deciding to take up the study of art, he went to Warsaw in 1898, where he began his training with the noted Polish painter of historical subjects, Wojciech Gerson. He showed his first works at an exhibition of the Art Salon of Warsaw in 1902. In 1905-06 he attended private art academies in Paris. Shortly after his arrival in Vilnius in the summer of 1906, he was elected chairman of a committee which organized the first exhibition of Lithuanian artists. The exhibit was opened on Jan. 9, 1907; of the 213 canvases shown, 35 were his, including such delicately hued landscapes as The River Neris near Antakalnis, Hamlet in Dzukija, A Lithuanian After Work, and Exile. Through his efforts and of others, the Lithuanian Art Society (Lietuviu Dailes Draugija) came into being that same year he was elected its president. In 1908 he set out on a journey which took him through Western Europe and ended in the United States. There he visited a number of Lithuanian communities, soliciting patrons for the Art Society and donations for the National Building in Vilnius. He returned to Vilnius in the autumn of 1909 and resumed his activities with the Art Society. In 1912 he went to Hamburg to study fresco painting. In 1914 he traveled in northern Norway painting arctic landscapes and came back to Vilnius just before the outbreak of World War I.
After the war, living in Kaunas, he continued to concern himself with the organizational life of art and took an active part in civic affairs throughout the period of independence. At a retrospective exhibit of Lithuanian art in 1920 he displayed 109 canvases. He revisited the United States in 1922-24; exhibitions of his art were held in Washington (1923), and in Chicago and New York (1924). From 1926-30, he headed the revived Lithuanian Art Society (see Art Societies). Active in the National Guard (Sauliu Sajunga), he served as its president (1929-34) and at times edited its organ Trimitas (The Bugle). To commemorate his 60th birthday, the Lithuanian Artists' Association (Lietuvos Dailininku Sajunga, founded in 1935) organized exhibitions of his work in Kaunas (1936) and Klaipeda (1937). A retrospective show was presented in the town of Alytus (1938). From 1926-40 he taught drawing at the Kaunas Art School.
Following the Soviet occupation of Lithuania during World War II, he lectured at the Institute of Applied and Decorative Arts in Kaunas (1944-51), the Institute of Fine Arts in Vilnius (1951-53), and at the Polytechnic Institute of Kaunas (1953-66). A retrospective exhibit of his paintings was held in Moscow (1951) on the occasion of his 75th birthday. His last one-man shows took place in Vilnius and Kaunas (both in 1956) and in Palanga (1963). He died on Aug. 9, 1966. His memoirs, written in a vivid style, appeared under the title Palete ir gyvenimas (A Palette and Life) in 1961. Throughout his long life he was an ardent collector, amassing an extensive and valuable collection of Lithuanian art, historic and ethnographic items, and folk artifacts. A portion of this collection is housed in museums In Kaunas and Vilnius, and the rest in the museum bearing his name, which was founded in Kaunas in 1965.
As a young man Zmuidzinavicius led a somewhat bohemian existence, the circumstances of which did not permit him to complete his formal studies. For his training, he relied more on museums, which he visited on his travels and where he could learn from some of the finest masters of art. As a painter he came to create his own style and school of painting. In form, however, his work could be said to come close to the Barbizon school. For example, his Man Harvesting Potatoes (1906) brings to mind the art of Jean F. Millet. That he did not entirely bypass modern trends indicate such works as Hamlet in Dzukija, All Through the Night, Receiving a Letter, the portrait of Tadas Daugirdas, and self-portrait, which were painted in 1906-10 and which reveal the artist's sensitive feeling for impressionistic colors. Later he devoted himself almost entirely to landscape painting and through the years developed his own original style. In his art nature is not subjected to fierce storms, nor is there the grey gloominess of autumn, which clouds the daily life of a peasant bent under the yoke of toil. A rainy or a cloudy day, exactly like a sunny one, evokes a peaceful, idyllic mood when the laborer forgetting the privations of his life delights in the beauties of nature. In this respect, he could be called the bard of Lithuanian peasants, who sang of what was dearest and most beautiful about their land. One of his best-known works is Two Pines (1930), in which a characteristic Lithuanian landscape and nature's gladsome mood are captured with a simplicity of design and form.
 
Bibl.: 
1. Antanas Zmuidzinavicius (album with introduction by J. Mackonis), Vilnius, 1961;
2. Savickas, Peizazas lietuviu tapyboje, Vilnius. 1965.

 

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