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Art in Slovenia

Biedermeier and Romanticism

Anton Karinger

(Ljubljana, 1829–1870)

A Motif from Eppan
1869, oil, canvas, 27,8 x 38,2 cm
na hrbtni str. sr. napis (črnilo): Südtirol bei Eppan / nalepka z napisom (tipkopis): Antun Karinger, Ljubljana / 1828 - 1870

NG S 1684, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
Karinger portrayed this and similar motifs during his travels through South Tyrol, which until the outbreak of WWI was part of the Habsburg monarchy. Karinger spent most of his time in and around Tyrolian Auer and Eppan during October (e.g. in 1867, 1868, and 1869), producing several sketches of the rocky landscape interspersed with trees. Eppan and Auer are around a three hours’ walk apart. Karinger returned to South Tyrol just a few months before his unexpected death, again sketching Eppan’s craggy hill on Sunday, 3 October 1869. These elaborate sketches were later converted into the oil paintings A Motif from Eppan (Motiv pri Eppanu) and Southern Landscape (Južna Pokrajina, NG S 136).

Biedermeier and Romanticism
Heavily censored public life between the Congress of Vienna and the Spring of Nations in 1848, weakened Church patronage, and the ascending middle class marked the era when life focused on the privacy of the family circle, individual dignity and the sense of belonging; this is expressed in the Central European art as the style of Biedermeier which coexisted with a Romantic view of nature. 

Portraiture was the genre of painting that saw its heyday in this era. Matevž Langus, Jožef Tominc, Mihael Stroj and Anton Karinger established themselves as individually formed portraitists who demonstrated their self-confidence as artists also through their self-portraits. The painters initially relied on formal characteristics of Neoclassicism. Stroj’s late portraits and particularly those by Karinger abandoned the Biedermeier manner and adopted a more realistic approach. 

Interest in landscape first appeared as the background of portraits; towards the mid-century first autonomous city vedute emerged. The Biedermaier landscape is idyllic, descriptive, and furnished with staffage figures. Painters were attracted by tourist destinations and locations that were related to homeland identity: Mt. Triglav, Lake Bohinj, Bled. Anton Karinger and Marko Pernhart established themselves as explicit landscapists. The latter became famous for his multi-part panoramas from mountain peaks. 

Still lifes became an attractive decoration of a middle-class home, and they also found favour with amateur women painters, one of whom was Countess Maria Auersperg Attems.