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San Marco by Emerik Fejes

Emerik Fejes San Marco

A friend visiting Zagreb, Croatia, sent me a postcard with this painting of Basilica di San Marco on it. I love it! The card is from The Croatia Museum of Naive Art which has a number of paintings in its collection by the artist, Emerik Fejes. This painting was done in 1957.

Emerik Fejes (1904-1969), like many naive or folk artists, didn't start painting until late in life. He was a comb and button-maker who also collected postcards which became the inspiration for his paintings, most of which depict great buildings and cityscapes from around the world. According to Wikipedia, his painting technique was unusual in that he used matchsticks instead of brushes. And of course, I was charmed by this little detail:

"He also preferred painting with his cat under his arm." Wikipedia has a sweet photo of him with his tuxedo cat.

Emerik Fejes

He looks like a nice guy. I love these self-taught artists who make art just because of some inner inspiration, not because it's their career or because they hope to make money on it. Many folk artists aren't discovered until after they've died, but Fejes had several exhibitions and some success and acclaim while he was still alive. Good for him. I'd love to see some of his work in person.

A few other works below:

The Capitol in Washington DC


A drawing of the Duomo in Florence


The Duomo in Milan (I love the colors in this one)


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Comments (17)

Thanks for making me discover this artist! Love his drawings! Can't wait to read more about him.

What an interesting artist. I'm intrigued by his work, it is beautiful but how labor intensive must be to paint with matchsticks! I love the part about painting with his cat under one arm. :)

I'm very attracted to his painting of the Duomo in Milan. I've never liked this giant gothic cathedral but he does make it look very attractive and even whimsical.


These are just beautiful!!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, what a wonderful new artist to learn about. He's very talented. Hard to believe that he used only match sticks to paint these beautiful pieces. I also love the thought of him working with his tuxedo cat by his side. I think that it is wonderful that he enjoyed some of his success.

Thank you so much Annie for sharing his work with us. Have a great evening.

I'll be there on Sunday. :)

Barb Cabot:

Love his vision. He seems like a happy person. His colors and approach are full of life. The photo with his cat is so sweet.


Just returned from our latest trip to Venice. You inspired us to get the train to Padua. We had a great time. We booked to see the Scrovegni Chapel online as you suggested. Absolutely fantastic. We also saw the tomb of St. Anthony. Thanks for the inspiration. We also saw quite a few corpses in Venice!; St Lucia, St. Zaccaria, St. Athanasius among others. Gruesomely fascinating. Regards Andrew ( No need to post this if you don't want to)

Thanks for your comments everyone.

Maria, I agree with you about the Duomo in Milan. And whimsical is a perfect description of his work!

Kathy, I was glad to learn he had some success too. Often these self-taught artists remain obscure so I'm glad he had some positive reaction to his art while he was still alive.

Leslie, have a great time in Venice!

Barb, he DOES look like a happy person. And his painting are happy and colorful and kind of innocent in a way. I love them!

Andrew! Good to hear from you and thanks so much for your mini-trip report. I'm so glad you went to the Scrovegni Chapel and enjoyed it. And yes, the relics in the churches of Venice are very strange and fascinating. I haven't written about this on my blog yet, but one of the weirdest ones is the body of San Teodoro in the church of San Salvador. He's got this really bizarro mask on; the first time I saw it, it really startled me! Glad you had a good trip.

What an interesting life he led painting with matchsticks while holding a cat. I am curious about the buttons! I love his work. Thanks for sharing his work with us!


His work is fascinating, Annie -- the first piece, of San Marco, is brilliant!

And I love the photo of the artist with his tuxedo cat (who looks exactly like Mrs. Cat.) He must have been quite a character!

Gorgeous! I love naive/folk art. And both the one of San Marco and of the Duomo in Milan are just fabulous!

Girasoli, I'm curious about the buttons too.

Sandra, I love the San Marco too and would love to see it in person!

C, I think they're wonderful too. So glad my friend sent me the postcard!


Those are fantastic!! I love them too, so colourful and unique. Thanks for introducing this wonderful folk artist to us!

I know a little bit about Fejes. My parents drove thru Zagreb in 1967 and visited him. He worked primarily as a picture framer at that point plus he painted. His wife thought the painting was a waste of time. My parents with a friend bought more than a dozen Fejes which they sold and gave away as presents through the years. There are still three in the family although we have photos (somewhere) of dozens. I have one painted of Mont St Michel on my wall.

His brusher were created by him: thread wrapped around wooden match sticks. He painted from postcards and added his own colors.


Hi John, thanks for the info. How wonderful that your parents were able to meet him and that you have an original work on your wall today! I appreciate you taking the time to leave your comment.


In part inspired by this blog post, I have put up a blog with copies of the artwork of Emeric Fejes that they bought from him in the mid 60s. As I run across more details about him (for instance, my Dad left a discussion about him which I just ran across) I will update the blog:


John, thank you! Your blog is fantastic.

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