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Art in Slovenia

Pavel Künl - Biedermeier and Romanticism

(Mladá Boleslav, 1817 – Ljubljana, 1871)

Künl was trained in painting at the Vienna academy, but his art was subsequently shaped in relation to his artistically unambitious Slovenian clients. He was also a copyist and restorer. He executed commissions placed by the Church and took care of the art collection of Eduard von Strahl at Stara Loka (Altenlack). The quality of Künl’s works fluctuated and his style extended from the contemporary Biedermeier back to Baroque and 17th century Netherlandish painting. Particularly attractive in his vast oeuvre of religious paintings, genre scenes and portraits seem to be his cityscapes, which are, due to their topographical details, of particular documentary value.
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.