NATIONAL MUSEUM OF BELGRADE (НАРОДНИ МУЗЕЈ)
Petit Futé's opinion on NATIONAL MUSEUM OF BELGRADE (НАРОДНИ МУЗЕЈ)
Finally reopened in June 2018 after fifteen years of renovation work, the National Museum, located in the very heart of the city, presents a very complete panorama of Serbian archaeology and art, as well as a very rich collection of impressionist painters, notably French masters. Founded in 1844 by Prince Miloš Obrenović, the museum was housed in various premises before being installed in the palace it currently occupies, which dates from 1903. One of the museum's greatest treasures is its collection of objects from prehistory and antiquity. We can see in particular the famous votive chariot of Dupljaja (1500 BC) representing a deity dragged by ducks, Apollo Hyperborean, a bronze bust of Emperor Constantine, a Roman parade helmet from Vinča, etc..
The first floor is dedicated to frescoes and religious paintings of the Middle Ages: among the works on display are frescoes of medieval Serbian art from the monasteries of Đurđevi Stupovi, Gradac or Prizren, including a magnificent Dormition of the Virgin. Don't miss the icon of the Last Judgment, from the monastery of Moraća, with portraits of canonized Serbian kings. The same floor houses Serbian painting from the 18th and 19th centuries, romantic, realistic or impressionist.
But it is on the 2nd floor that the main pieces in this field are located, including a superb Virgin and Child of Tintoretto, Les Femmes au bain by Renoir, a Tahitian vahiné by Gauguin, and Neige by Vlaminck. It would seem that Belgrade has one of the richest collections of French impressionists in Europe...
The collection Šlomović. Since 1945, the cellars of the National Museum of Belgrade have housed unsuspected treasures, both from antiquity and impressionist painting. There are more than 1,100 masterpieces by the greatest artists: Van Gogh, Titian, Picasso, but also Bonnard, Derain, Gauguin, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir. In fact, the museum has two treasures: about twenty Flemish masterpieces inventoried and 350 pieces from the Šlomović collection. How can such a profusion of masterpieces be explained? We have to go back a little bit in contemporary history. Erich Šlomović, a Serbian Jew, was born around 1910. He was found in Paris in 1936 where he made friends with the famous collector Ambroise Vollard, merchant of the Impressionists, friend of Matisse and Picasso. At the tragic death of the collector in 1939, Šlomović inherited his collection of French masters. Feeling the Nazi threat, he locked 200 paintings in a Société Générale safe in Paris and hid the rest, or 429 works, in the double partition of a farm in southern Serbia. After the war, Erich's mother Roza took the paintings back to Serbia but died in a train accident on her way back to Belgrade! She had signed the assignment, and the works entered the museum in 1951. However, since then, the Šlomović collection has been the subject of a legal battle between the Vollard right holder, who obtained in Amiens in 1996 to be made the main legatee, and the Herzler heirs, related to the Šlomović family, who, in 1997 in Belgrade, obtained a judgment in their favour! Today, this incredible affair is at a standstill and the museum, for fear of losing its masterpieces, hides a good one - the best one! - part ! If you know how to do it, ask the entrance to visit the cellars!
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Opening time and information on NATIONAL MUSEUM OF BELGRADE (НАРОДНИ МУЗЕЈ)
Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 6pm, Thursday and Sunday from noon to 8pm. Closed on Mondays. Price: 300 RSD, free entry on Sundays.
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