Ceremonial curtains

Vlaho Bukovac, Preporod hrvatske književnosti i umjetnosti, odnosno Hrvatski preporod, svečani zastor izgrađen prigodom otvorenja zgrade 1895. The Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb has one iron curtain and seven painted curtains that are mounted on various special occasions. The oldest and the first curtain in the shape of a fan titled The Grandfather, the Grandson and the Fairy is credited to the Croatian painter Vjekoslav Karas and has been mounted around 1850. It is the only preserved item from the stage equipment of the old upper town theatre, also called the Stankovic theatre.

Amongst many suggestions that the general manager Stjepan Miletic was sending to the Government during the construction of the new building of the Croatian National Theatre, his idea to engage Vlaho Bukovac to paint the ceremonial curtain for the opening of the new theatre in 1895 was accepted. Today known under the name Croatian Reformation, the curtain’s working title was Celebration of National Lyrics and Dramatics and the real title was Reformation of Croatian Literature and Art. For the theme of the ceremonial curtain Miletic was led by the concept of cultural unity of the two Croatian centres – Dubrovnik and Zagreb. The frontal part of the composition depicts the atrium of an antique temple where the famous poet Ivan Gundulic from Dubrovnik is sitting and is being crowned by fairies and geniuses. He is paid reverence by Croatian reformers of the 19th century led by Ljudevit Gaj. Three significant theatre artists Josip Freudenreich and at the time still active famous actors Adam Mandrovic and Marija Ruzicka Strozzi form a separate group. In the background on the left there is a contour of Dubrovnik and the Minceta Tower and the local people from the surroundings of Dubrovnik celebrating freedom, and in the background to the right there is a contour of Zagreb and the inhabitants of northern Croatia. Connecting Croatians from the north and the south in the composition of Bukovac’s curtain became a symbol of the idea of Croatian unity. After a hundred-year usage, it was replaced by a copy in 1999 painted by painters Ivica Sisko and Eugen Kokot with associates.

Zastor za staro gornjogradsko kazalište s umetnutom slikom Djed, unuk i vila, koja se pripisuje Vjekoslavu Karasu (nakon 1850); jedini očuvani dio scenske opreme iz tog razdoblja.During the reconstruction of the building between 1967 and 1969, three new curtains were created – the iron curtain and two painted curtains. The iron curtain was created and mounted by painter Vladimir Pintaric after the idea of Croatian painters Kamilo Tompa and Fran Simunović. It was placed above the proscenium and is still in use. In the same year of 1969, the curtain Tito’s Forward painted by Fran Simunović was also created after an epic poem of the same title by the Croatian poet Vladimir Nazor, as well as the curtain titled A.D. 1573 painted by Krsto Hegedusic on the theme of the Peasant’s Revolt in 1573.

In 1994, on the occasion of the 900th anniversary of the City of Zagreb and the Zagreb Diocese a ceremonial curtain was donated to the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb titled The Four Seasons by Ivan Lackovic Croata, painted by Rudolf Labas.

In 1997, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of continuous appearance on the stage of ballet The Devil in the Village by Fran Lhotka the ceremonial curtain The Devil in the Village was created by painter Ivan Lovrencic after the scenes in that ballet.

The ceremonial curtain mounted in 1999 titled Harmica (the old name for the central Zagreb square, today the Ban Jelacic Square) was painted by Vasilije Jordan.

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