Djura Jaksic - Poet, Painter, Patriot and a Bohemian

Djura Jaksic was one of the most notable poets and painters of Serbian Romanticism of the mid-19th century. He died in Belgrade on November 28, 1878, of tuberculosis.

Born in 1832, in Srpska Crnja, Banat, then Austria-Hungary, Jaksic went on to become one of the artistic standard-bearers of Serb patriotic expression, in poetry, painting and drama. His most famous poem, Otadzbina (The Fatherland) served as an inspiration to Serbian troops fighting for liberation of South Serbia from the Ottoman Empire. He was perhaps even better known in his time as a bohemian, a fixture at Skadarlija, Belgrade’s bohemian quarter.

Jaksic, a son of a Serb Orthodox priest, studied in Temisvar, Segedin and Veliki Beckerek (today’s Zrenjanin) and continued in Vienna and Munich. He was wounded in 1848 while fighting Hungarians in the battle of Srbobran. He moved to Serbia in 1857 and worked as a schoolteacher and a civil servant. A social and political rebel of the most non-conformist sort, Djura lived in poverty most of his life, supporting his family with difficulties. 

His art was patriotic, imaginative, and passionate, somewhat dark and tragic, but imbued with a sense of highest moral and spiritual exaltation. Djura Jaksic, due to the warmth and depth of his poetry and his passionate personality, remains beloved by the Serbs. “The Djura Jaksic Award” for poetry is given in his hometown of Srpska Crnja every year.

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