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THE GALLERY IS CLOSED!
M.Cl. Crncic was born in Bruck n/Mura in 1865. Menci attended the elementary school in Vienna and continued his education at a military grammar school at St. Polten and Hranice in Moravia from 1876 to 1882. When he was seventeen he decided to abandon military school and study painting. After his studies at the Vienna Academy of Art he moved to Munich. Due to the shortage of funds M.Cl. Crncic was not able study at the Art Academy in Munich but stayed only a short time in the town situated on the river Isar. After Munich the young artist moved to Coburg where stayed for one year (1886-1887) painting sets for the theatre. While he waited for a scholarship to enable him to continue his education at the Art Academy he stayed with his sister Marie in Nova Gradiska (in Croatia). There he painted intensively mainly landscapes and portraits. Some of these early paintings have been still survive. Between 1889-1892 Menci Cl. Crncic continued his studies at the Art Academy in Munich under professor Nicolaus Gysis who had a considerable influence on his work. Iso Krsnjavi, the most prominent figure in the artistic life in Croatia at that time and the then Director of Institute for Education and Theology recognized Crncic’s talent for drawing. He ensured him a scholarship and Crncic returned to Vienna to study graphics under the tuition of the famous graphic artist Wiliam Unger. In 1896 the young artist spent a couple of months with his professor who was ill at the time in Lovran on the Adriatic coast. During his studies M.Cl. Crncic was awarded Fuger’s gold medal for the best work in 1896 and a special prize from the Vienna Academy of Art in 1897. Nine of his graphics form part of the famous Albertina collection in Vienna. His sojourn with Unger in Lovran gave him the sense of freedom which inspired him. Giving up his scholarship and lived partly in Lovran and partly in Vienna until his departure to Zagreb in 1900. During these years he painted scenes from Primorje and Istria. During his studies he exhibited occasionally in Zagreb and other European towns (Budapest, Petrograd and Paris) together with other artists belonging to Croatian Art Society. Also in Opatija in exhibitions by Croatian and foreign artists, where many of his paintings were sold. Since the beginning of his studies from 1894 he exhibited etchings too. After his first one-man exhibition in the Art Paviljon in Zagreb in 1900/1901 when he exhibited 39 oils on canvas as well as graphics M.CL. Crncic was accepted as a mature artist with a specific sensibility for seascapes which remained his beloved theme. Crncic’s work arise the interest of art circles of Zagreb because of his artistic expression his rich and bright colours and the quality of his graphics. Crncic was particularly active in 1902 when he spent some time on the Plitvice Lakes, hi October 1902 he participated in the International Exhibition in Opatija where his painting “Blossoming barberry” was particularly well-received, hi December of the same year Crncic exhibited in the E.Artina Salon in Vienna. After the Vienna exhibition, at the beginning of 1903 Crncic received the Emperor’s subsidy of 2.000 kruna for a series of etchings with scenes from the Adriatic coast areas in Primorie and Dalmatia. In the spring of that year he stayed for quite a long time in Opatija. After that he brought to Zagreb many paintings depicting landscapes of Primorie and the bay of Kvamer characterized by thick brush strokes. Some landscapes from the island of Losinj were painted in the pointilistic technique. That year M.CL. Crncic also painted a series of works of the mountainous region of Gorski kotar where he spent some. He also participated in the exhibition of Croatian artists in Prague. In October 1906 Crncic established together with Bela Cikos, the first private art school in Croatia. In the following year this art school became an art college and eventually it grew into the Croatian Academy of Art. In 1905 Crncic travelled to Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Germany and Austria together with Milan Senoa. Accompanied by the painter Oton Ivekovic he travelled to Italy down to Napoli. In 1908 he travelled around Bosnia and Herzegovina together with Gustav Pongratz and Emil Kulmer. In August 1906 he exhibited at the Exhibition of The Association of Yugoslav Artists “Lada” in Sofia, Bulgaria. In 1908 M.CL. Crncic was appointed assistant tutor at the Art School in Zagreb. Between 1910 and 1915 M.CL. Crncic constructed a villa in Novi Vinodolski where he painted a number of famous works. He frequently invited his students and friends to visit him in the villa. His first one-man exhibition in the Ulrich Salon in Zagreb was held in 1911. From then on he continued to mount one-man exhibition almost annually until the end of his life. In 1911 he exhibited among other paintings, a serious of works representing scenes of the Velebit mountains. This new theme introduced a change in his style of painting. Instead of a dense colour impasto he began to use thin layers of colour with fine brush movements. Crncic was among the first members of the Yugoslav Academy of Science and Art in 1919. He participated in the exhibition of Yugoslav graphic artists in 1926 in Zurich and St. Gallen. In October 1927 there was a fire in his studio that destroyed a number of his works. From 1920 to 1928 Crncic was the director of the Strossmayer Gallery. During that period the Gallery was refurbished, display was renewed and the exhibited works were photographed.
M.CL. Crncic died in September 1930. The death of the great Croatian artist came suddenly after he returned one sunny autumn Sunday from his trip to the Sava river bank near Podsused. As always he was enchanted by the nature and the last words spoken by the artist were: “How beautiful the nature is, tomorrow I must come again to paint it.”