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Art in Slovenia

Biedermeier and Romanticism

Anton Karinger

(Ljubljana, 1829–1870)

The Oaks in Mestni log
1869, oil, canvas, 38 x 52 cm
sr. sp. na okvirju napis (svinčnik): Karinger, Iz mestnega loga; l. zg. na podokvirju nalepka z napisom (tisk, tipkopis in svinčnik): NARODNA GALERIJA LJUBLJANA / INV. ŠTEV. / KARINGER Anton / " Iz ljubljanskega Mestne / ga loga " / o. pl., sign. ni / NM - NG, 19 A; l. zg. nalepka z napisom (svinčnik). III. 23; sr. sp. na podokvirju nalepka z napisom (tipkopis in žig): Restavrirano / 1954; LJUDSKA REPUBLIKA SLOVENIJA LJUBLJANA / ZAVOD ZA VARSTVO IN ZNASTVENO PROUČEVANJE KULTURNIH SPOMENIKOV / IN PRIRODNIH ZNAMENITOSTI SLOVENIJE

NG S 0127, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
The lush canopies intertwine, while each trunk grows independently. Yellow flowers dot the grass around the trees, which are also interspersed with understory, and a modest cabin can be seen in the background. This image was likely inspired by Karinger’s strolls through Mestni Log, to the south of the capital, where the Ljubljana Marshes begin. During the same period, Karinger produced many landscape paintings featuring forests, mountains, and rugged, rocky terrain. It is difficult to say which works were created in situ, as Karinger always sketched out his trees and individual natural motifs, and at least for those works depicting well-known scenes, it is easy to see how significantly he tweaked them to fit his style and expression.

While studying in Vienna, Karinger also painted landscape works at the city’s park Prater; his oaks can be compared to Prater Landscape by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (1793–1865), a groundbreaking and influential Viennese painter who advocated for painting in plein air. Part of his studies included tracing the works of Lovro Janša (1749–1812), and his professor was Franz Steinfeld (1787–1868), who among others also left his mark on Marko Pernhart (1824–1871). Among his influences “at home”, Karinger’s first role model in depicting Slovenian landscapes was Franz Kurz von Goldenstein (1807–1878).

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.