Menu Shopping cart
Your basket is empty.
Support us


Art in Slovenia

Biedermeier and Romanticism

Mihael Stroj

(Ljubno, Radovljica, 1803 – Ljubljana, 1871)

Jožefa Košir
1860, oil, canvas, 94,5 x 76 cm
signed lower right: Stroy. pinx

NG S 2280, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
Jožefa Košir was born in Ljubljana’s Krakovo district in 1832, the daughter of Jožef Podkrajšek. She was the second wife of the carpenter Janez Košir, whom she married in 1848. Stroj has depicted her from the back, her head turned to look over her shoulder towards the viewer. Her bare neck adorned with a pearl necklace and shoulders from which her fur collar has slid are an academic attempt at capturing the sensuality of the lady portrayed. Her right arm is adorned with rich jewellery and her hand elegantly clasps her heavy velvet cloak, which is accentuated by unrealistic glints of light. 
In the last decade of his career, Stroj limited his use of colours and details and devoted himself to compactness and voluminous physicality. Virtuosic technical skill and a realistic treatment of physiognomy place Stroj’s late works among the finest middle-class portraits in nineteenth-century Slovenia. The painting is a pendant to the portrait of Janez Košir.

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.