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Weekly Focus: Republika Srpska, Russia and Austria

Teresa Ries – Self Portrait

Two of this week’s three countries or regions represent two poles of the CEE spectrum: Austria to the west, Russia to the east. And in the middle, a bit to the south, Repulika Srpska, one of the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All three countries are steeped in history, ranging from the Great Plague of Vienna in 1679, which legend has it was also the source of the popular folk song “Oh du lieber Augustin”, via the Herzegovina uprising in 1875 to the Era of Stagnation, which not only affected Russia but was also felt in many other CEE countries at that time.

If history isn’t your cup of tea, there are also some very interesting women to write about this week: Terese Feoderovna Ries (depicted in the self-protrait to the right) was a Russia-born Austrian sculptor and painter, who was one of the first women to become a highly celebrated artist in the late 19th-century art world of Vienna, that was dominated by men at the time. Even Mark Twain was so impressed by her work that he commissioned a bust by her in 1898.

Back in Russia, another sculptor by the name of Anna Golubkina, who despite not having a primary school education, managed to impress her teachers at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, going on to creating many original sculptures which were very well received, resulting in an exhibition at the prestigious Alexander III Museum.

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