We reveal the story behind a dilapidated house in 13 Kapetan Misina Street, in the heart of Belgrade
Built in 1902, according to a design by architect Milan Kapetanovi, and located on the corner of Kapetan Misina and Gospodar Jovanova streets, it was a part of the Danube slope area
The house in 13 Kapetan Misina in Belgrade was declared a cultural monument in 1984. Today, one might wonder why this building is so important. However, this was the first and the only Belgrade house with formerly a painted facade, and it was built for the needs of the Serbian School of Painting run by wife and husband Beta and Rista Vukanovic.
Built in 1902, according to a design by architect Milan Kapetanovic, and located on the corner of Kapetan Misina and Gospodar Jovanova streets, it was a part of the Danube slope area.
The reputable Vukanovics bought this plot of land when Rista sold his painting "Dahije" to King Milan, while the house was built with the money from Beta's family heritage.
When Kiril Kutlik, the founder of the first painting school in Belgrade, passed away in 1900, Rista bought the entire school inventory from his widow, with the intention of launching his own school.
The premises of the Serbian School of Painting were located on the ground floor of this family house, while the living space was upstairs. Rista ran the men's department and an evening crafts course, while Beta was in charge of the women's section. There were other, distinguished teaches - academician, experts, members of the Academy of Sciences.
The facade from Kapetan Misina was treated as the main facade and bore the qualities of academic architecture. What exactly it looked like can only be discerned from an old black and white postcard, that shows it richly painted. The wall facade was done by Beta to emphasize the special purpose of the building.
Above the central entrance was a shield with three red fields - an international symbol of arts. All pilasters and the attic were painted with ornaments in the form of blue iris flowers and colorful peacock feathers. For this reason, the building was popularly known as The Blue Iris House. The central field under the roof was occupied by an allegorical composition showing three muses - of painting, music, and dance.
Due to an increasing number of students and the need for modernization, the school operated in the house only until 1905. Beta and Rista, along with Djordje Jovanovic and Marko Murat, founded the School of Arts and Crafts in the building at 13 Kralja Petra Street, which was until that point used by the First Belgrade High School.
When the First World War broke out, the Vukanovics left Belgrade with the Serbian Army. In the bombing of 1915, their home was partially destroyed.
Rista passed away in France in 1918 and Beta returned to Belgrade the following year. The mourning German woman did not want to return to the collapsed house full of memories, but instead sold it to the consul Milutin Stanojevic, and he to the iron merchant Despot Lukic. After the Second World War, the house was converted into an apartment building and numerous changes were made to it.
According to contemporaries, Beta was reluctant to visit this area, although her studio was in the nearby Kolarac Endowment. She taught young painters. She would often sit in Student Park and record the scenes that brought back her memories. She left behind many works of art, mostly portraits and still life compositions.
Beta Vukanovic passed away in 1972 at the age of 100. She is buried in the New Cemetery in Belgrade.