Menu Shopping cart
Your basket is empty.
Support us


Art in Slovenia

Biedermeier and Romanticism

Mihael Stroj

(Ljubno, Radovljica, 1803 – Ljubljana, 1871)

God’s Care
(1842), oil, canvas, 30 x 41,3 cm
signed and dated lower right: Ströy. pinx: / 842.

NG S 363, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana

God’s emissary has descended to the snow-covered landscape to feed the animals that are facing hunger in the depths of winter. The rabbits, hares and various birds including a jay, a bullfinch, a tomtit and a kingfisher are given seeds, while the vegetables in the basket are intended for the deer that is cautiously approaching from the forest on the right.

God’s Provisionportrays the message of biblical and exegetic parables of God’s bounty. The ravens in the picture are presumably linked to Jesus’ advice to his disciples on the road to Jerusalem, when he told them: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. . . . Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! (Luke 12, 22–24). The work also calls to mind the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6, 26) and is reminiscent of St Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds. Stroj based the angel’s garment on the modelling of drapery pioneered by Joseph von Führich (1800–1876), one of the principal Austrian representatives of the Nazarene movement.

The work dates from a period in which a series of pro-Slovene bishops were strengthening the role of the Church, which had been greatly weakened by the Theresian and Josephinian reforms. Works with a religious theme are a rarity in Stroj’s oeuvre, who was best known as a portraitist of Ljubljana’s upper classes.

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.