Menu Shopping cart
Your basket is empty.
Support us


Art in Slovenia

The Middle Ages and the 16th Century

Early Gothic Crocket Capital (fragment)
(2nd third of the 13th century), sandstone, 38 x 56 x 22 cm

NG P 623, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana

The bell-shaped crocket capital of a pilaster in the south nave of the monastery church, demolished in 1945, is ornamented with stylised foliage (palmettes along the upper edge, flowering rosebuds in the central part, intertwined stems in the lower part). 

The Fons Beatae Mariae Virginis monastery in Kostanjevica was founded by Bernhard von Spanheim. He issued the first foundation charter, which has not been preserved in either original form or as a transcript, in 1234, while the second, more complete charter dates from 8 May 1249 (kept at the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia); with the latter, the monastery became a dependant priory of the mother house monastery in Vetrinje (Viktring). 

The Kostanjevica monastery church has a Latin cross floor plan (the so-called “Bernardine layout”), based on the bound system typical of Romanesque construction, with a rectangular choir, a transept and two pairs of chapels with square termination. In addition to the vaulting system, the church is distinguished by the ornamental stonework on the capitals of the pilasters and compound pier shafts; Emilijan Cevc found many similarities with the Cistercian Abbey Church in Bélapátfalva in Hungary (founded in 1232).

Provenance: Kostanjevica na Krki (Church of the Cistercian Monastery Fons Beatae Mariae Virginis)

From the High Middle Ages to the Renaissance
In the High Middle Ages religious art prevailed that spread through the Slovenian lands first from monasteries and then from major regional centres, particularly, Gorizia, Villach and Ljubljana. Gothic art persisted even after the dawn of the Renaissance, but in the 16th century artistic production almost came to a standstill due to Turkish invasions, peasant uprisings and Protestantism which was averse to the fine arts. 

The leading position in Gothic painting belongs to frescoes. The collection presents a few examples of original fragments and several copies which illustrate the most frequent motifs, such as St Christopher, St George, the Procession and the Adoration of the Magi, etc., and a few special motifs, such as Sunday Christ and the Dance of Death. Along with numerous masters with provisional names we also know several artists by name and their idiosyncratic oeuvres, e.g. Johannes Aquila, Johannes de Laybaco, Master Bolfgang. Their production was part of the contemporary art scene in the sub-Alpine space, where from old times onwards stylistic influences of northern and southern countries had been intertwined. 

Numerous medieval sculpture workshops supplied reliefs and statues to churches for their altars. Crucified Christ, Madonna and Child, and Pietà rank among the characteristic religious motifs. The earliest sculptural pieces still demonstrate Romanesque vestiges, but the main body of exhibits are stylistically determined by the Gothic style which in some areas of Carniola, Styria and Carinthia lasted deep into the 16th century. The zenith of Gothic sculpture in Slovenia is represented by the works of the Ptujska gora sculpture workshop represented by The Beautiful Madona and the Pietà from Podsreda. To the period of the so-called late Gothic baroque style around 1500 belong the Virgin with ChildSt Catherine and St Magdalene from Avče, and the extraordinarily expressive Christ Crucified from Dramlje. Renaissance sculpture is represented by plaster casts of the Bishop Ravbar epitaph and two reliefs of St Andrew’s altar from Gornji Grad by Oswald Kittel.