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Art in Slovenia

Biedermeier and Romanticism

Anton Karinger

(Ljubljana, 1829–1870)

Lime Kiln
oil, canvas, 85,5 x 78,5 cm

NG S 3437, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
A worker has taken a step away from a nearly completed lime kiln and is gazing out through the smoke towards Triglav. Karinger likely was depicting a scene along the Sava, probably near Bled.
Karinger often portrayed nature’s might alongside industrial endeavours, for instance painting an ironworks and a sawmill while traveling through Tyrol. The lime kiln motif is featured in three of his works, though the scenes’ locations are not known today. The National Museum houses a sketch of a lime kiln from 1865, which the artist used to produce the featured painting. Given that the surroundings are always different in each version, version, it is likely that this was a composite work. The theme does not cast an accusatory light upon industry’s impact on the environment, nor upon the labourer’s social situation.

Donated by: Bogomila and Marjan Pogačnik, 2008
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.