Collection of Applied Arts and Ethnology reflects Belgrade family life from the first half of the 19th century: housing culture, house appearance, furniture, clothing and customs. The collection contains rich assortment of silver objects, porcelain, glass, ceramics, followed by clothing, jewelry, carpets, antique furniture and a large number of photographs.
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Darinka Smodlaka was born in Izbište in Banat (Vojvodina, Serbia). She attended secondary school in different cities but she took her final exams in Belgrade, where she also studied and graduated from the Faculty of Medicine. Having completed her medical specialization in Vienna, she returned to Belgrade, where she finally settled and where she worked as a dentist. Her innate sense of beauty, fondness of art, and acquaintances and mingling with artists pushed her into collecting paintings, sculptures and objects of applied art for furnishing and adorning her home. Over time, the collected items increased in number to such an extent as to form a considerable collection of paintings, sculptures, icons, antique furniture, chinaware, glassware, silverware and other 18th, 19th and 20th century items. The paintings and sculptures in the collection are mostly works by famous Yugoslav artists: Uroš Predić, Paja Jovanović, Bora Stevanović, Đoka Jovanović, Risto Stijović, Toma Rosandić and others.
From this rich and diversified collection Dr. Smodlaka made a selection of eighty items which she gifted to the Belgrade City Museum in 1980 in memory of her early deceased son Milan Boka and her husband Milan Smodlaka.
The first Deed of Gift, in compliance with which the Department of Applied art and Ethnology of the Belgrade City Museum accepted to put this legacy under its auspices, was concluded between the Museum and Radenko Perić in 1973. After several decades of collecting “fine things”, this passionate collector and his wife Ksenija wished to bequeath to the Museum works of fine art and 342 objects of applied art, including antique furniture, Oriental carpets, china, glassware, silverware, silver jewellery and various ethnological objects dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Robert Cihler Gašparović was born in Vršac. Throughout his career and in his retirement years, he lived in Belgrade. Before World War II, he was an appointed official of the salami factory Herz und Sohn (Herz Son), based in Banatski Karlovac. Gašparović was a passionate collector of antiques. In the eve of World War II, the construction of his house in the Belgrade neighbourhood of Senjak was completed; the house was designed as a Gothic castle on a small scale. It was furnished with antique furniture, Oriental carpets and 18th- and 19th-century silverware, chinaware, glassware and ceramic objects. Since his passion for antique items persisted, Gašparović kept on enriching his collections after World War II, to bequeath them to the Belgrade City Museum. The Department of Applied Art and Ethnology of the Belgrade City Museum holds more than 470 objects from his collections.
By means of the Deed of Gift as of 1976, the Belgrade City Museum became a holder of the Robert Cihler Gašparović’s rich collection of antique furniture, Oriental carpets, silverware, chinaware, glassware, men’s pocket watches and other objects of artistic interest.
Vladimir Marinović, a jurist and a diplomat, bequeathed his collection of artistic objects to the City of Belgrade as an expression of his love and devotion to Belgrade and the present and future generations living in it in his own name and on behalf of his wife Elena. After his death, the Belgrade City Museum took over his collection in 1982. It presently forms part of the holdings of the Museum’s Department of Applied Art and Ethnology. The legacy of Vladimir Marinović includes 167 items: diverse and valuable works of fine and applied art from the 17th–20th centuries, like antique furniture, chinaware, silverware, glassware, metal and ceramic objects, manufactured in Europe, Russia, Near and Far East, Africa and South America. Paintings by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Stepan Fedorovich Kolesnikov and Aleksey Hansen are particularly valuable. The collection also includes several icons from the same period. On his numerous trips to Near and Far East, Africa and South America, Vladimir Marinović assembled curious objects that cannot commonly be seen in this part of the world. The orders and medals in the collection were awarded to Marinović by Yugoslav and foreign governments for his merits as a volunteer in World War I and during his diplomatic service. Vladimir Marinović also bequeathed to the Museum his rich library, which presently makes a separate unit including 300 books, originals and phototype editions, key studies on literature and art, mostly in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian languages.
It was in accordance with the desire of Dr. Ivan Subotić (1893–1973), who spent his career before World War II in diplomatic service, that a room dedicated to the founder of the family, Dr. Jovan Subotić, famous Serbian poet and writer, was set up at the Zemun Home Museum, a satellite museum of the Belgrade City Museum. Dr. Jovan Subotić and his wife Savka, née Polit Desančić, the first president of the Serbian Women's Association, had four sons. Their second eldest son, Dr. Vojislav Subotić, was a surgeon and one of the founders of the Faculty of Medicine in Belgrade, where he also worked as a Professor. He was a volunteer in World War, just like his son Ivan. The eldest son of Jovan and Savka Subotić, Dejan, was educated at Russian military academies and he acquired the rank of Lieutenant General.
The belongings of the Subotić family that were gifted to the Museum in 1975 include 56 objects, the most of which are related to Dejan, Vojislav and Ivan Subotić: silver plaques awarded to Dejan Subotić, decorations of Vojislav Subotić, a family album, a silver pitcher, family photographs, etc. After the death of Dr. Anka Subotić, née Gođevac, her daughter Ružica and her son-in-law Igor Pereplotsikov, an engineer, gifted to the Museum in 1986 two albums with 300 family photographs, genealogies of the families of Ivan and Anka Subotić, various documents related to both families, miniature replicas of the orders awarded to Dr. Ivan Subotić, as well as his diplomas, passports and other identity documents, epaulettes from Dr. Vojislav Subotić’s uniform from World War I and other things.