Miha Maleš: illustration of the Prešeren Wreath of Sonnets, 1937

Published: 30.01.2019

At the initiative of the literary historian France Kidrič, who invited Miha Maleš to take part in the preparation of the book of the Slovene poet France Prešeren, from the thirties of the 20th century, the artist also devoted himself more intensely to the poetic opus of France Prešeren.
In 1937 the first book with Miha Maleš’ illustration of the Prešeren’s Wreath of Sonnets was published. The introductory text was written by Rajko Ložar. It is about thirty celestial illustrations – black and white linoleums, where we know the artist behind them, because in these illustrations we will inevitably seek out typical characterization or even analysis of the original Prešeren’s poem – before us, an independent and at the same time poetic text is an equivalent artistic statement. In 1959, the Sonetni venec with the artworks of Miha Maleš was re-published in the Koper Publishing House Lipa, but this time in a slightly richer, colourful version (thirty coloured engravings) with the introductory text of France Stele.
Prešeren’s lyric, which is so full of love as well as patriotic feelings and thoughts, which are mostly twisted into despair and blackness, turning only in individual parts into optimism, are accompanied by Maleš’ images, soft notes that are realistic on the one hand and re-stirring in fantastic, which are soft and warm, and again on the other end, they are very nasty.
In the Sonnet wreath, even with the choice of technique, the dark side prevails (drawing on a black background), with illustrations moving both in the art and on the poet’s side, between grief and despair on one, and the gentle, playful melody of a happy heart on the other.