Stanislav Dospevski – the painter of the Bulgarian Mona Lisa

Stanislav Dospevksi (1823-1878) is the first Bulgarian painter with academic education in the field of art.

He is successor of the artistic traditions of three generations of Bulgarian icon-painters and, in practice, is the first Bulgarian secular painter.

His grandfather, Hristo Dimitrov is a nephew of the monk Paisii and founder of the Samokov icon-painting school. Stanislav Dospevski (born Zafir Zograph) is son of Dimitar Zograf and nephew of Zahari Zograf.

Zafir was sent by his father to study art in Russia, where he graduated from the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, and then – with honors he graduated from the Imperial Art Academy in St. Petersburg.

Returning to Bulgaria, Stanislav Dospevski lived in Samokov and Pazardzhik, but most of his professional life he spent in Plovdiv.

He is the first in the secular portrait painting in Bulgaria.

He left realistic, expressive and memorable portraits of his relatives and prominent Plovdiv citizens. The contours of his portraits are convincing but gentle. The colours are warm and deep. The models are portrayed in traditional poses.  He uses symbols embedded in the paintings – something typical for Renaissance. The background is dark, grey and brown, with a specific light effect in depth.

I very much like the portrait of his sister Dominica Lambreva, called by our art historians “the Bulgarian Mona Lisa”.

This is the wedding portrait of his sister, who became wife of Hadji Lambri Hekimina from Pazardzhik. She is fragile herself and, despite the severity of her classic posture, her posture shows uncertainty and frightness. Her face is beautiful but somewhat tense. These are the brightest colours and the most gentle nuances used in the portraits of Dospevski.

The rose that the bride holds in her hand is gentle, rigorous and beautiful as Domnika herself. With one dissolved and one undissolved flower. Life that ends. And the one to come.

The painting is an indisputable masterpiece of our Renaissance art.

You can look at the portraits painted by Dospevski on the website of the Pazardzhik Gallery with his name.