Anton Koželj, Portrait of a Woman with Children in Slovene National Costume, 1920

Published: 26.08.2021

The Koželj family is one of the most prominent painting families in Kamnik, which can be traced from the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, first with father Matija Koželj, a Nazarene painter, and then with sons Anton and Maks Koželj. Matija and Maks Koželj have already experienced their presentation and catalogue, the life and work of Anton Koželj is still awaiting research in the coming years.

Anton Koželj’s painting has a double value. The first is that Anton Koželj’s paintings are very rare. As one of the most popular illustrators of the first half of the 20th century, he furnished books for the Mohorjeva družba (Calendars, Slovenian Ballads and Romances, Slovenian Legends, Gregorčič’s Poetry), Učiteljska tiskarna and Mladinska knjiga. His basically realistic illustrations are distinguished by skilful drawing, the Vesna tradition and, in the early years, Art Nouveau features. He made several portraits of Slovenian writers and painted religious images.

The second value is that it represents a citizen of Kamnik in national costume with two children. As Bojan Knific wrote in his new monograph I Show Myself to a Boy in a Colourful Dress, published on the occasion of the 50th Days of National Costumes and Clothing Heritage in Kamnik in September 2021, “the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. costume design, which after the creation of the new state no longer had the same function as before. The function of showing belonging to the nation began to be lost, and the costume served more as a decoration than at various church, tourist, social and similar events.

In front of us sits a woman in Slovene national costume without a hat, in her lap is a girl with a toy in her hands, next to them sits a boy with a book. They are all customized in a slightly reworked national costume, especially the boy’s costume with leather pants, suspenders and a scarf.