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2002, iss. 4, pp. 45-78
article language: Serbian
document type: unclassified
published on: 02/06/2007
The myth about the national hero savior and the construction of the monument to prince Miloš M. Obrenović III


Belgrade, capital of principality and later kingdom of Serbia could be perceived as pantheon in the open where monuments of the most prominent national heroes have been erected. Special place among these monuments belongs to the equestrian statue of prince Mihailo M. Obrenović III. This is the oldest and the most representative public national monument in Belgrade. Process of heroizing of prince Mihailo Obrenović had started already during his lifetime and reached its culmination at the time of his tragic death in 1868. Vast artistic production has been created in order to create new national hero. Leading artists in this process had been writers and poets followed by painters and sculptors. Immediately after formal funeral the initiative was launched for the erection of monument. Committee for erection of monument had been established and fund raising campaign started in the media. In the beginning construction of two monuments had been planed. Building of memorial chapel was planned on the place of death and figural monument on one of Belgrade squares. First projects for both monuments submitted Russian sculptor Mihail Osipovič Mikešin. After his sketches graphic prints have been produced and from selling of these prints money was collected for the monuments. However, these projects had not been realized. The order was cancelled and the care about monument was taken over by the Ministry of Construction according to the decision of the Parliament reached on the 23rd of October 1871. Thus, whole undertaking achieved state and dynastic character. Ministry of Construction announced open competition but only three projects were offered. Because of poor response and unsatisfactory quality of works the competition was called off. The new international competition was announced in 1873. About sixty European sculptors asked for the competition conditions and finally 17 projects were submitted. International jury selected as first prizewinner the project of sculptor Vincenzo Pilz from Vienna. After the jury completed its work all projects were presented to the public in the Ministry of Construction. Newspapers commented on the exhibition in different way and that gave Mihailo Valtrović a pretext for publishing the book "Projects for monuments of the late prince" about the work of the jury. Project that won first prize had not been realized because later on had been chosen the work of Florentine sculptor Enrico Pazzi. Pazzi had already been in Belgrade in 1872 when he made a bust of prince Mihailo Obrenović. He had returned to Belgrade in 1874 and then he made model for monument and relieves for its base. During his work he was helped by advisory board with Mihailo Valtrović as its chairman. The sculpture had been finished in 1879 and had been cast in Munich in the atelier of Ferdinand von Miller. Pazzi's project was based on the well-known tradition of the equestrian statue. This type of representations appeared in Serbian state and dynastic propaganda already in the Middle Ages, primarily on coins. Its revival happened in the Baroque art when we know for the equestrian statue of tzar Dušan. Prince Mihailo had been competent rider and he often appeared on horseback in the ruler-propaganda projects. His equestrian representations had become especially popular after Matija Ban wrote theatre apotheosis "Posmrtna slava kneza Mihaila" ("Posthumous glory of prince Mihailo") for the formal opening of National Theatre in Belgrade on the 6th of April 1867. On the Pazzi's monument prince Mihailo Obrenović has been represented on horseback, in formal attire and with hand pointing towards the south. This rhetoric gesture had been common knowledge in the time of monument erection and it symbolized aspiration of Serbian foreign policy to liberate southern regions that had been under the rule of Ottoman Empire. On the oval pedestal had been arranged relieves with state and dynastic national themes that glorified prince Mihailo and Obrenović dynasty. The monument has been placed in the square in front of National Theatre according to the special decision of the Parliament from October 23rd 1871 and formal decree of prince Milan Obrenović from February 15th 1882. National Theatre was endowment of tragically killed prince so placing of monument in the square in front of its main facade assigned to this arrangement outstanding national and dynastic character. The monument has been ceremonially opened on December 18th 1882 on the day of St. Nicolas, patron saint of the Obrenović dynasty. It has been great ephemeral spectacle and the set for this happening has been produced by in that time very prominent painter Stevan Todorović. All state officials headed by king Milan Obrenović took part in the ceremony. What the ceremony looked like we know from the old photographs and one lithography, copies of which have been sold for propaganda purpose.


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