Paja Jovanović (Vršac, 1859 – Vienna, 1957) was born into the family of photographer Stevan and Ernestina Jovanović. In 1875, his father took him to Vienna, where he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts (Akademie der bildenden Künste) in 1877. Having completed his studies at the Academy, Jovanović travelled a lot and worked for Paris and London art dealers, to settle in Vienna in 1895. He was elected full member of the Serbian Royal Academy in 1888. In his very long artistic career, Jovanović created outstanding works of art: history paintings (MIGRATION OF THE SERBS, PROCLAMATION OF THE CODE OF EMPEROR DUŠAN), genre paintings (ADORNING OF THE BRIDE, COCK-FIGHT, FENCING) and numerous portraits of famous people (Mihailo Pupin, King Aleksandar and Queen Maria Karađorđević). He also tried his hand in religious painting: Paja Jovanović painted the iconostases in the churches in Dolovo and Novi Sad.
The Museum of Paja Jovanović is housed in the building at No. 21 Kralja Milana Street in Belgrade. The most famous Serbian painter of Academic Realism gifted in his lifetime a great number of his works – from preliminary sketches to representative portraits and history paintings – to the Belgrade City Museum. The permanent exhibition includes only a part of the Legacy of Paja Jovanović: 45 paintings, his painting equipment, personal documents, diplomas, medals, notes and correspondence; it also includes a Renaissance portal and a Louis XV drawing room brought from the painter’s studio in Vienna.