House of Jevrem Grujic
The First Private Home Declared a Cultural Heritage Monument of the City of Belgrade and the Place Where the Serbian Mona Lisa Resides.
Svetogorska Street number 17 in Belgrade preserves the home of the extraordinary artistic value of the famous Serbian statesman and diplomat Jevrem Grujic (1826-1895). Grujic was the initiator of Serbian liberalism and a central figure of the St Andrew’s Day Assembly. The building which houses his collection today was erected for Jevrem’s daughter Mirka – the court lady of Queen Marija and the president of the Circle of Serbian Sisters. Descendants of this prominent family, willing to present their art collection, opened their home to the public in 2015, known as the Museum of Jevrem Grujic. It is the first private home declared a cultural heritage monument of the city of Belgrade (1961).
The edifice in which the museum is located was erected in 1896 according to the plan of the architect Milan Kapetanovic based on Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Baroque elements. The facade decoration which imitates the sgraffito technique is the achievement of the Italian master Domenico d’Andrea, and it is not seen frequently on the facades of the capital.
The museum consists of works of art collected for more than two centuries and contains more than 400 pieces. Unfortunately, a large part of the collection was destroyed in the First World War, while during the Second World War, the artifacts were walled up in the basement, causing them to be saved from destroying and oblivion.
The collection consists of several sections. The most valuable part of the museum are paintings and sculptures by some of the most significant Serbian artists: Paja Jovanovic (portraits of the descendants of the Grujic family), Uros Predic, Djordje Krstic, Ivan Tabakovic, Stevan Todorovic (portraits of Jevrem and Jelena Grujic), Zora Petrovic, Milos Tenkovic and many others.
The museum also contains pieces of applied arts, in the first place style furniture created in the period from the 16th to the 19th century, as well as jewelry and objects made of ceramics and porcelain. In the museum are also kept very well-preserved weapons from the First and Second Serbian Uprising and rifles of Serbian heroes Hajduk Veljko Petrovic and Tanasko Rajic.
House of Jevrem Grujic can also boast about archival and literary materials such as photographs, rare newspapers, the first edition of “Gorski vijenac” (The Mountain Wreath), and private correspondences of members of the Obrenovic family.
One of the most valuable pieces of the institution is the Portrait of Queen Natalija Obrenovic, known as the Serbian Mona Lisa. The creator of this masterpiece was the great Serbian painter Stevan Todorovic (1832-1925). The portrait originates from the artist’s home in Gospodska Street in Belgrade, dating from 1886 when it was painted in the oil on canvas technique. The queen is presented waist up, in half profile, posing proudly and with dense black hair. The redness of the dress, with a flower-shaped decoration on the left shoulder, is mitigated by a white tulle veil, which provides an extra dose of sophistication. The dignity and subtle mystery of the portrait, perpetuated by Todorovic’s talent, created a masterpiece of Serbian painting in which experts find parallels with the famous Leonardo’s portrait.
One of the curiosities of the museum is the oldest preserved wedding dress in the Balkans, dating from 1856. It belonged to Jelena, the wife of Jevrem Grujic, and it was made of silk enriched with silver and gold threads. The making of the wedding dress took entire two years.
A masterpiece of French art, a gold-plated liquor chest decorated with crystals is also kept in the House of Jevrem Grujic. The chest was a wedding gift from King Milan Obrenovic to Stana, daughter of Jevrem Grujić.
An exceptionally decorative mirror made in the Rocaille style, dating from 1775, can also be seen among displayed objects. It is considered to be the most luxurious example of Venetian mirrors on the territory of Serbia.
Today, the House of Jevrem Grujic is a cultural heritage monument and a member of the European Historic Houses Association. In addition to presenting an exceptional art collection, the museum provides ordering antiques from the leading auction houses in Europe: Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Dorotheum.